How To Store Olive Oil Long-Term ( In 3 Easy Steps )

Spread the love

Were you aware that the Ancient Romans utilized extra virgin olive oil for bathing, religious ceremonies, and medicinal uses, aside from incorporating it into their diet? This practice isn’t astonishing, given that olive oil has been a staple for millennia, with good reason. It’s nutritious, delicious, and adaptable. While its primary role is culinary, olive oil can also serve in creating natural soaps, candles, and even as a lubricant, among various other applications. If you’re interested in harnessing the numerous potentials of olive oil, understanding the art of long-term storage is key.

For more in-depth information about Prepping Click here to check out my recent guide

You can store olive oil in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. While its storage spot doesn’t impact its shelf life, it does affect how effectively the oil is maintained. When stored correctly, extra-virgin olive oil remains fresh for about 18 months, while refined olive oil can endure for up to 2 years. Despite the shorter lifespan, we recommend extra-virgin olive oil due to its stronger flavor and superior nutritional benefits. If you want to know how to store cooking oil long term then check out my recent article Store Cooking Oil For Long Term Shelf Life ( In 6 Easy Steps ).

Understanding Olive Oil and the Importance of Proper Storage

Olive oil is the fluid extracted from pressed olives. While primarily recognized for its culinary applications such as cooking, frying, and baking, it also finds use in cosmetics, soaps, and as a fuel source for oil lamps. There exist four distinct classifications of olive oil meant for consumption.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Obtained through cold-pressing olives, extra-virgin olive oil preserves a significant portion of its flavor and nutritional content. Compared to more processed variants, it has lower acidity levels. Extra-virgin olive oil is acclaimed as the premium quality option. It exhibits a smoke point of 374°F (190°C).

Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin olive oil is produced by cold pressing olives, followed by gentle heating. While this process reduces its flavor and nutritional richness, its delicate taste renders it perfect for salad dressings. The smoke point of virgin olive oil varies, ranging from 374°F (190°C) to 405°F (207°C).

Pure Olive Oil

Pure olive oil is crafted by blending extra-virgin olive oil with refined olive oil. While suitable for culinary purposes, it finds frequent application in massages and therapeutic treatments.

Refined Olive Oil

Considered the least superior among olive oil varieties, refined oil is subjected to elevated temperatures to enhance its heat tolerance. However, this process diminishes a significant portion of its flavor and nutritional content. Its notable heat resistance renders it a favored choice for cooking purposes. The smoke point of refined olive oil can span from 390°F (200°C) to 470°F (245°C), contingent on the extent of refinement it has undergone.

Despite the negative connotation often linked to the term “fats,” unrefined olive oils are widely recognized as beneficial fats. They contribute to lowering bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol, aid in reducing blood pressure, and are believed to possess anti-cancer attributes. This stands in stark contrast to “unhealthy” fats like canola oil and other high trans fats, which have been associated with elevated blood pressure, hypertension, and stroke risks.

We highly recommend extra virgin olive oil, which undergoes minimal refinement. This variety maintains a higher content of nutrients, flavors, and health-enhancing properties due to its unrefined nature. If you want to know the shelf life of rice bran oil then check out my recent article Shelf Life Of Rice Bran Oil ( How To Store It Correctly ).

Nutritional Information

Olive oil is predominantly composed of fats, with a single tablespoon (13.5g) containing 0g of protein, 0g of carbohydrates, and 119 calories. The fats in olive oil are mainly comprised of monounsaturated fats, particularly Oleic Acid.

How To Store Olive Oil Long-Term

Storing olive oil doesn’t have to be complex; in fact, simplicity is key. The objective is straightforward: minimize light, heat, and oxygen exposure. By shielding your oils from these factors, you extend their shelf life to the fullest. However, the choice of container and storage site significantly impacts how effectively the olive oil preserves its quality and guards against environmental elements.

An essential point to remember is that once you open a bottle of olive oil, its shelf life diminishes considerably, regardless of your storage methods.

The choice of storage container holds significance as it dictates the level of light and air exposure that the olive oil will encounter. Generally, there are three prevalent types of storage containers for cooking oils, tin containers, plastic bottles, and glass jars. If you want to know the shelf life of avocado oil, then check out my recent article Shelf Life Of Avocado Oil ( Is It Rancid? ).

Tin Containers

Tin containers are widely regarded as the optimal choice for olive oil storage. The metallic composition acts as a barrier, effectively blocking both light and air from permeating the bottle. High-quality olive oils often come packaged in these containers. The primary drawback of this storage method is the cost, as tin bottles tend to be more expensive. Nevertheless, if your goal is to store substantial quantities of olive oil over the long term while maintaining its quality and flavor, these containers represent the finest option.

Glass Jars

An alternative approach to uphold quality and flavor involves storing olive oil in glass jars. Tinted glass containers are available for this purpose, mitigating the ingress of light and thus safeguarding flavor and quality. While glass jars are a commendable storage option, they are not as efficient as tin containers in minimizing light exposure. Additionally, glass jars are fragile and prone to breakage, unlike their aluminum counterparts. For those seeking premium oil and planning to use it within a year, selecting oil stored in glass jars is advisable.

Plastic Bottles

Plastic bottles are a widely chosen storage option for oil, although they prove to be the least efficient for long-term storage. Exposure to light can cause plastic bottles to generate heat, leading to a decline in the quality, flavor, and overall freshness of the oil. Moreover, plastic bottles possess porosity, allowing oxygen and moisture to infiltrate the contents over time. Most crucially, the chemicals present in the bottle can leach into the oil, introducing microplastics and hastening spoilage. The primary advantage of using plastic bottles for olive oil lies in cost, as lower quality oils often come packaged in plastic, offering an economical alternative.

Where To Store Olive Oil?

While the storage location doesn’t impact the maximum shelf life of olive oil, its significance matches that of the storage container. The correct storage site has the potential to maintain the oil’s freshness and uphold its quality over the years. It’s essential to reiterate that the objective is to minimize contact with heat, light, and oxygen. Whether you opt to store the oil in a freezer, fridge, or pantry, these three settings effectively shield it against heat and light exposure.


For extended storage, the freezer emerges as the most proficient location. Yet, this choice is most fitting when immediate usage of olive oil isn’t anticipated. Given that olive oil freezes entirely at approximately 10°F (-12°C), convenient accessibility for routine use becomes challenging. Nonetheless, frozen oil maintains both its flavor and nutritional content, obviating any concerns about quality alteration. The process of returning the oil to its liquid state merely entails letting it rest at room temperature overnight.


Opting to store olive oil in the fridge not only shields the bottle from heat and light but also facilitates convenient and frequent usage. At around 54°F (12°C), olive oil solidifies, potentially leading to cloudiness in appearance. However, rest assured that the oil remains perfectly safe for regular consumption. As it congeals, its application in cooking might be slightly impacted, yet it’s important to note that the oil’s nutrients and flavor persist intact despite its altered consistency.


Even though storing olive oil at room temperature exposes it to heat, it remains a secure storage method. The key is to select a cool, dim area, ensuring it’s far from the stove and direct sunlight. Storing it in a pantry can provide ample protection against most environmental factors. However, if you reside in a warm climate where temperatures frequently surpass 80°F (27°C), contemplating storage in the fridge or freezer for cooking oils is a wise consideration.

Shelf Life of Olive Oil

The longevity of olive oil on the shelf varies based on its classification and whether the bottle has been opened or remains sealed. Refined olive oil tends to have the lengthiest shelf life, although it might lack the robust flavor and nutrient content due to the heating procedure it undergoes. On the other hand, extra-virgin olive oil has intense flavor and elevated nutrient levels, yet its shelf life is typically shorter.

Once the bottle has been opened, it’s advisable to consume the oil within 3-6 months for optimal quality and flavor. Once exposed to oxygen, the oil’s quality starts to deteriorate.

How to determine if Olive Oil has Spoiled?

You can follow a simple 3-step process to assess whether your oil has turned rancid. Use your sense of sight, smell, and taste to gauge whether the oil remains suitable for cooking.


Observe any signs of discoloration in the oil. If the once vibrant yellow-green hue transforms into a dull or off-color, it might indicate that the oil has deteriorated. It’s worth noting that rancid oils typically don’t develop mold; however, any herbs or spices within the oil could potentially foster mold growth.

Smell Test

If uncertainty still lingers, proceed to the next step – the sense of smell. Give the oil a whiff. Rancid oil often emits a soapy aroma and an unpleasant odor. This olfactory test can promptly confirm whether the oil is spoiled.

Taste Test

Lastly, if the oil’s appearance and scent seem satisfactory, consider tasting a small sample. A tiny portion is safe to ingest and can provide a definitive answer. Rancid oil has a spoiled taste that will leave no doubt in your mind about its quality.

If you have concerns about the quality of your oil, it’s wiser to discard it rather than subject your family to rancid oil. While consuming rancid oil might not induce immediate illness, it can have adverse, lasting health repercussions. Ingesting rancid oil elevates the presence of free radicals in the body, which in turn disrupts the stability of healthy cells. Moreover, cooking with rancid oil can negatively impact dishes due to the unpalatable taste that rancid oils possess.

Proper Methods for Disposing of Olive Oil

When it comes to getting rid of olive oil, it’s advisable to consider repurposing the oil or containing it in a plastic bag before discarding it in the trash. Pouring it down the kitchen drain can gradually harm the pipes, potentially resulting in costly plumber interventions. Thankfully, if you’re faced with rancid oil, there are straightforward methods to responsibly dispose of it.

  1. Create DIY Candles
  2. Craft DIY Soap
  3. Utilize as Lubricant for Metal Hinges
  4. Employ for Cleaning and Polishing
  5. Recycle through Composting
  6. Dispose by Sealing Cool Oil in a Plastic Bag and Discarding in the Trash

Key Takeaways

The shelf life of extra-virgin olive oil is approximately 18 months, while refined olive oil can last up to 24 months. The chosen storage location—pantry, fridge, or freezer—doesn’t impact the shelf life; however, the status of the bottle (opened or unopened) does.

Once opened, it’s recommended to consume extra-virgin olive oil within 3-6 months, and refined olive oil within 6-9 months. Given the choice, opting for extra-virgin olive oil is advisable due to its enhanced flavor, higher nutrient content, and overall health benefits. Despite refined olive oil’s longer shelf life, it lacks the health advantages present in unrefined olive oil varieties.