How to Properly Store Cooking Oil?

Top view of bottles of cooking oil

Knowing how to properly store cooking oil is a must for anyone who enjoys cooking or cooks frequently. Not only is it wasteful and expensive, but improperly storing cooking oil also presents potential health hazards. And considering the current state of the global oil market, it is advisable to save money or stock up on essentials.

Primary Elements That Impact Cooking Oils

There is no universal method for storing cooking oils, as they are all unique. Nonetheless, the following factors are critical in cooking oil storage:

Bottles of cooking oil with expiration date

  • Time 

Oil degrades over time. Therefore, you should monitor its quality and the length of time it has been in your pantry.

  • Heat

Heat speeds up chemical reactions, causing oil to go rancid faster. As oil is heated, its molecules wiggle and collide, causing the oil to change properties. The same thing happens when you store cooking oil in a hot environment.

Bottle of cooking oil being poured

  • Oxygen

Due to its high-fat content, cooking oils start deteriorating as soon as you open the bottle due to oxidation. It is a chemical reaction in which atmospheric oxygen attacks triglyceride molecules' fatty acid chains.

  • Light

Light accelerates fatty acid oxidation. It can even cause a significant loss of antioxidants in polyunsaturated oils, particularly tocopherols. Thus, storing cooking oils in the dark is recommended.

6 Tips For Storing Cooking Oils

If you want your cooking oils to retain their flavor and freshness for an extended period in the pantry, you should steer clear of the four things that were just discussed.

Aside from that, the following recommendations can make cooking oils last considerably longer.

 1. Choose the right oil for your needs

Since fats react differently to heat, choosing the right cooking oil for your needs is crucial. The most heat-resistant and longest-lasting of healthy cooking oils is monounsaturated oil.

Unsaturated fats are more susceptible to rancidity. Since they have double bonds, electrons can be quickly drawn from other carbon atoms, leaving the carbon's hydrogen open to abstraction and free radicals formation.

Different types of cooking oil in a glass boat

So if you plan to use oils frequently, you should get a higher-quality oil that can withstand the heat.

 2. Don't buy more than what you can use

Don't stock up on more cooking oil than you can use in a year or two, as most oils spoil quickly. If your storage space is warm, you'll need to go through them faster. In other words, you have to use them within six months of opening.

Person at a grocery store buying cooking oil

It's better to buy in lesser quantities. Otherwise, it should remain unopened unless you think you can consume it within the prescribed period.

Transferring oils to a new or smaller container is also not advisable. Doing so will allow oxygen to degrade it. When it does, it produces an unpleasant odor, messing up any food you try to cook with it.

 3. Opt for cooking oils packaged in glass bottles instead of plastic. 

Food stores typically sell cooking oils in plastic bottles. This begs the question, "Can you keep oil in plastic bottles?" If you can use it swiftly, it's okay. However, plastic canisters are not airtight. Additionally, they could form tiny holes that eventually permit air to pass through, leaving an oily mess in your pantry.

Different cooking oil in a glass bottle

The best containers for long-term cooking oil storage are glass bottles or metal tins. These containers will be better at keeping air out. However, cooking oils in metal containers are large and may be too much for you.

 4. Store cooking oils away from light

Cooking condiments in a glass bottle

Are you unsure about where to store oil in the kitchen? For longer shelf life, keep it in a cabinet or dark place. In addition to losing their nutritional value, cooking oils deteriorate more quickly when exposed to light. 

Some oil brands package their products in dark bottles to preserve their freshness for longer. They may cost more, but they could save you money.

 5. Keep them away from heat.

Industry experts advise storing cooking oils between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit for maximum performance. Keeping it at room temperature of about 70 is fine, but the taste may change slightly.

While it's convenient to store them above or near the stove, the best way to keep cooking oil fresh is to keep it away from heat. Cooking oils in warm environments will lose their freshness more quickly, even if they are sealed in an airtight container or kept in the dark.

Kitchen view with a window

Perhaps you are wondering if or which oils should be refrigerated. According to the experts, all cooking oils should be refrigerated after opening. Refrigerating or freezing is an efficient way for retaining oil freshness, especially for heat-sensitive cooking oils, such as almond or truffle. 

Oil becomes cloudy in cool temperatures. But that doesn't mean it's spoiled. Simply thaw it at room temperature to remove the cloudiness. However, keep the temperature steady because repeated heating and cooling will diminish the oil's shelf life.

6. Label the containers with dates.

Plastic bottle showing expiration date

Use date labels to know when containers were opened. By doing this, you'll be able to keep an eye on how long the oil has been stored. It will also help avoid using stale oil. 

If you plan to reuse spent oil, pour it into an airtight container to keep oxygen and rancidity from setting in.

How To Tell If Cooking Oil Has Gone Bad

Rancidity is readily detectable in refined oils with neutral smells, such as canola oil. However, things become more challenging when using oils with specific aromas, such as extra virgin olive oil or unrefined coconut oil. These oils impart their scents to the finished product.

But there are two ways to tell if the cooking oil has gone stale.

Woman in dotted green apron pushing away smelly pot

By Smelling

This process requires a bit more skill for some oils, but it is still possible. The easiest way to learn is to take a good whiff of the oil after opening a brand-new bottle. If the current aroma of your old oil is significantly different from the previous one, it may be stale.

Wooden figure with sour face

By Taste-Testing

Oil's freshness can be more easily determined by its flavor.

You can test it by placing a small amount of the oil on your lips, pouting them as you would after applying lipstick, and then licking it. If the oil has acquired any odd taste or has a sour, bitter, or aged taste, it has likely become rancid.

Is it Okay to Use Stale Oil?

It's not always simple to determine whether or not the oil you just tasted is rancid. Sometimes you can get used to the off flavor and odor before you realize anything is wrong. Because of this, it is best to dispose of the oil well past its expiration date, even if you are not quite sure it has gone bad.

Woman eating covering her mouth

Rancid oils can cause digestive system distress in addition to the dangers of chronic diseases associated with free radicals. These toxic compounds can also deplete the body of vitamins B and E, negatively affecting our overall health.

Final Thoughts

Just as adequate oil waste disposal reduces environmental impact, proper cooking oil storage prevents health risks. Additionally, it ensures that you make delectable meals for your family and friends.

We at FryAway advocate for environmentally friendly kitchen garbage disposal.

Have any of these methods for preserving cooking oils been tried by you? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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