Many of us can end up keeping our cooking oils for far longer than we should. Not only can this be unsafe in extreme cases, but it could also be ruing our food without us really realizing it. The thing is, in a lot of cases, a bottle of canola oil will appear exactly the same as the day it was bought for a very long time. Without any visual cues, it can then be impossible to spot whether the oil is good or not. So, seeing as there are a lot of pitfalls here, we decided to put together a comprehensive guide on how to store canola oil for as long as possible and how to notice when it has gone bad. If this is the kind of information you’re interested in, you should probably read on!
Does Canola Oil Go Bad?
You would be forgiven for thinking that canola oil is an almost indestructible product that will probably never go off. A lot of us think that way. And generally, nothing will go wrong as a result. But, if you are the type who incorporates a few different oils into your cooking, it is easy to neglect one or two varieties that may sit there for way too long and spoil. This spoilage, though not dramatic in itself, can totally ruin whatever dish you’re cooking so it’s best to play it safe to avoid the hassle. So, the chances of seeing things like mold in your canola oil are quite slim, but it may well go rancid instead – and trust us, this is not a desirable flavor for your food!
How Do I Store Canola Oil?
Unopened bottles of canola oil are mercifully easy to store as they only need to be kept safe from a few things. For example; sunlight. Some manufacturers put their oils into clear bottles, leaving the contents incredibly vulnerable to light in general. Too much light can totally alter the compounds in your oil over time, causing it to spoil at a much more rapid rate than it normally would. Heat can also cause a similar effect. So, in order to store unopened bottles of canola oil for the longest possible time, choose a dark pantry or a nice, cool kitchen cabinet.
As soon as a bottle of canola oil has been opened, you no longer only need to worry about damage from sunlight and heat – you have a new contender to consider. Air causes a rapid decrease in the quality of any oil. Unfortunately, there is no possible way to stop this happening entirely, but you can take steps to minimize the negative effects. To slow the countdown to spoilage, keep the bottle sealed up as tightly as possible and return it back to a cool and dark environment straight after use. Never leave it out on the counter for prolonged periods of time as this is guaranteed to make it spoil much quicker.
Should You Refrigerate Canola Oil?
Given that an opened bottle of canola oil is more delicate than a closed one, you may be thinking that it’d make sense to keep it in the fridge instead of putting it back in a cabinet. Well, there is some wisdom to this, as it may help to prevent the contents from going rancid as quickly. However, the frequent temperature changes between fridge and countertop can also affect the quality of the oil over time. Our advice; keep it simple and just return it to the pantry or cabinet.
Can You Freeze Canola Oil?
Admittedly, we have never once thought of freezing canola oil. After all, freezer space is precious, and doing so won’t do your oil any favors. It won’t extend the shelf-life in the slightest, and the temperature changes between freezer temp and room temp will actually cause the oil to go rancid very quickly.
How Long Does Canola Oil Last?
A lot of the longevity of an oil depends on the quality of oil that you have chosen, and the difference can be quite dramatic. In some cases, a pricey oil can last for double the amount of time as a cheaper one. So, in optimal conditions, where the oil has been stored correctly and unopened, we would suggest that a pricey bottle can last anywhere up to two years before it diminishes in quality. With the stuff at the cheaper end of the scale, it still lasts a reasonable amount of time, but we would still recommend using it no later than 6 months after its sell-by date. Bear in mind that the oil will only have retained quality if they were stored out of reach of sunlight and heat.
As soon as a bottle of canola oil is opened, the air in the room rushes into the bottle and starts the contents oxidizing. Now, over a short period of time, this oxidization is nothing to worry about. It is only after a period of three months that you may begin to notice any difference at all. The fats in the oil will have begun to turn rancid, and the resulting change will affect the flavor of anything you cook with it. However, on the more expensive side of the oil market, it is not entirely unusual for an opened bottle of canola oil to retain some freshness for as long as 9 months after it has been opened. The longevity really depends on the quality of the oil and how it was stored. So, given that it is possible that you may not know if the oil you have is top quality or not, we compiled a section below on how to spot the signs of spoilage in canola oil.
How Do I Make Canola Oil Last Longer?
By selecting your canola carefully in the store you can make sure that you get one that will last quite some time. As we mentioned earlier, a high-quality canola oil will last much longer, but there is also another factor that can help it live longer. Avoiding clear bottles in favor of cans and dark bottles will mean that less light will hit your oil, making it last longer. So, avoid the decorative see-through bottles and opt for a less aesthetically pleasing container. Beyond that, follow the storage techniques above and your oil should last as long as humanly possible.
Signs That Your Canola Oil May Have Gone Off
As we mentioned earlier, it is pretty rare that you will see a canola oil developing mold. However, this does not mean that it simply can’t go off. What is much more likely is that the oil will begin to go rancid. When this happens, it will be because of prolonged exposure to air, moisture, sunlight, or the presence of foreign bodies such as flies. Though rancid oil probably won’t make you get ill, the flavor that it will impart onto whatever dish you are cooking won’t be in any way pleasurable. So, we would not recommend using a rancid oil and instead would suggest that you discard it for quality purposes. In more dramatic cases, you may notice that the oil has changed color or developed a film on the top. In either of these cases, the only thing to do is to chuck it all out and replace it.