Shelf Life Of Canola Oil ( Storing, Shelf Life, and Signs of Deterioration )

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Discovered an outdated container of canola oil and questioning its usability? Curious if canola oil goes bad?

Alternatively, you might sense a subtle distinction in the oil that you can’t quite identify, prompting you to determine whether the oil remains suitable for consumption.

In contrast to common misconception, canola oil and rapeseed oil are distinct entities. Canola oil stands apart due to its composition, containing less than two percent erucic acid, a compound that poses risks in higher quantities. This characteristic renders canola oil a considerably safer choice from a health perspective, setting it apart from conventional rapeseed oil.

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What is Canola Oil?

Canola oil is a variant of rapeseed oil with a lower erucic acid content, making it suitable for consumption. It was developed by Canadian scientists in the 1970s through selective breeding of rapeseed strains. In the 1990s, genetic modification was employed to enhance its resistance to herbicides, drought, and insects. Recognizing its cost-effective mass production potential, companies integrated canola oil as a primary ingredient in food products, offering it to consumers at an affordable price. Presently, canola oil stands as one of the most commonly used cooking oils worldwide.

With a high smoke point of 400°F (205°C), canola oil is a reliable choice for cooking at elevated temperatures. This attribute is shared by beef tallow, which also has a smoke point of 400°F (205°C). If you want to know the shelf life of almond oil then check out my recent article Shelf Life Almond Oil ( Short & Long Term Storage ).

Does Canola Oil Go Bad?

Canola oil is susceptible to spoilage, commonly leading to rancidity after extended periods of storage. The timeframe for this progression typically falls between one year and over two years, contingent upon factors such as the time of opening and the storage conditions employed.

The process of rancidification, which underlies the gradual decline in quality observed in fat-based products, including canola oil, contributes to their eventual spoilage. Unfortunately, this implies that it’s challenging to precisely predict the exact longevity of canola oil. While there are suggested best-by dates on the packaging, these serve as approximate estimations and frequently the oil remains viable well beyond those printed dates.

Given this variability, it becomes essential to be knowledgeable about recognizing signs of rancidity or other forms of spoilage in canola oil. If you want to know the shelf life of coconut oil then check out my recent article Coconut Oil Shelf Life ( Make It Last Longer ).

How can you determine if Canola oil has gone bad?

  1. Odor Check: A pungent odor resembling paint or detergent indicates rancidity. A harsh or strong smell is also a sign of spoilage. Canola oil should have a neutral scent that complements various dishes.
  2. Visual Inspection: Fresh canola oil appears pale golden and clear. If you notice changes in color or texture, it might indicate a problem. However, slight cloudiness or crystallization can occur if the oil is stored in cold conditions. Placing it in a warmer spot will likely restore its clarity.
  3. Microbial Growth: While oils typically don’t mold, contaminants can develop if the cap isn’t kept clean. If you observe mold or any signs of microbial growth on the bottle or cap, it’s advisable to discard the product.
  4. Taste Evaluation: If the appearance and smell seem fine, take a small taste. If the oil tastes sour or exhibits an overpowering flavor, it’s an indication of spoilage. Canola oil should possess a neutral taste, so any deviations suggest that it’s gone bad.

What Is the Shelf Life of Canola Oil?

When unopened, canola oil maintains its quality for a period of 12 to 24 months, often retaining its goodness for several additional months beyond the indicated date. Once the bottle is opened, canola oil remains viable for approximately 6 to 12 months, the duration varying based on its initial age and the storage conditions applied.

Of course, storage time suggestions are slightly different depending on whom you ask, but usually, they fall near the periods mentioned above.

If you want to make sure your canola lasts as long as possible, consider refrigerating it. That helps prolong the storage period a bit (more on storage practices later).

Now, let’s say your canola is a month or two past the printed date, and you want to know if you can use it. If you want to know how to use butter long term then check out my recent article How To Store Butter Long Term ( In 3 Easy Steps ).

Can you Freeze Canola Oil?

Freezing canola oil is an option, but it won’t prolong its shelf life significantly. Storing it in the freezer isn’t particularly advantageous, so we recommend keeping it at room temperature for practicality. However, it’s important to note that the freezing point of canola oil is approximately 14°F or -10°C.

How long does canola oil last after opening?

After opening, canola oil typically remains usable for about 6 to 12 months, a timeframe that aligns with other common cooking oils such as olive oil.

Many individuals opt to store canola oil and similar vegetable oils at room temperature in their pantry, and this is entirely appropriate. However, refrigeration can potentially extend its freshness a bit further, making it a consideration if the oil would otherwise be exposed to high temperatures or direct sunlight.

Canola Oil Past its Expiry Date

Canola oil doesn’t have a fixed expiration date; rather, it degrades gradually over time. This degradation is a slow process, not an abrupt shift from being fine one day to suddenly turning rancid.

Consequently, the indicated best-by date on the label provides only limited guidance. Frequently, the oil maintains its quality for weeks or even months beyond that date, as well as the recommended storage duration after opening.

So, if you come across canola oil that’s past its labeled date, begin by considering how long it’s been since that date. If it’s only been a month or two, chances are it’s still usable. However, if the duration is longer, pause to assess your comfort level before proceeding.

Proceed to evaluate the canola oil using the list of spoilage indicators I mentioned earlier. If anything seems amiss, it’s wise to discard it. Otherwise, your oil is likely perfectly suitable for use.

Is it safe to use canola oil after its expiration date?

If the canola oil was properly sealed and has surpassed its “use by,” “best by,” or expiration date, it’s generally safe to use for a few months beyond that date. If the canola oil was opened and is past the expiration date, it can still be used as long as there are no indications of the oil turning rancid.

Remember that a use-by or best-by date is a recommendation for when the oil’s nutritional quality and flavor are at their best. Using canola oil after that date doesn’t necessarily mean it will be harmful, but it might not be as fresh or of optimal quality, particularly if it was already opened.

What are the risks of using canola oil after it has turned rancid?

Using canola oil after it has become rancid is unlikely to pose significant health risks. The main concern is that the quality and taste of the food you prepare with the rancid oil will be negatively affected. While consuming small amounts of rancid canola oil might result in a mildly upset stomach, it’s not expected to lead to serious illness.

Proper Storage of Canola Oil

For proper canola oil storage, adhere to these guidelines:

  1. Cool and Dry Environment: Keep your canola oil in a cool and dry location, shielded from direct sunlight and heat sources. This safeguards its quality and longevity.
  2. Secure Sealing: Upon initial use, remember to securely seal the bottle when not in use. This prevents unnecessary exposure to air.
  3. Room Temperature or Refrigeration: You have the option to store canola oil at room temperature or place it in the refrigerator. However, be aware that refrigeration can lead to crystallization and cloudiness due to the lower temperature. While reheating can remedy crystallization, it might also slightly hasten oil rancidity.
  4. Similar Practices for Other Oils: The same principles apply if you’re curious about storing oils like avocado oil or sesame oil.

To sum it up, placing your canola oil in a tightly sealed container within a kitchen cabinet is likely the optimal approach. This strategy should maintain its quality until the indicated date and possibly even beyond.

Reasons to Avoid Consuming Canola Oil

Despite being promoted as a heart-healthy cooking oil, recent research has raised doubts about these assertions. Canola oil contains high levels of erucic acid, which has been associated with heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and weight gain (source, source). Furthermore, many types of canola oil are genetically modified, making them unnatural choices. At Soulful Prepper, we advocate for non-GMO and unrefined food options, such as extra-virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, or unrefined avocado oil.

Alternatives to Canola Oil

When searching for healthier substitutes for canola oil, prioritize cooking fats and oils that are both natural and non-GMO, and have undergone minimal hydrogenation. The refining process can strip away valuable nutrients, so opting for less refined options is key. Consider incorporating these well-regarded, natural cooking oils into your culinary choices:

  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  2. Unrefined Coconut Oil
  3. Unrefined Avocado Oil
  4. Beef Tallow
  5. Ghee
  6. Lard (Pork Fat)
  7. Goose Fat
  8. Duck Fat

Key Takeaways

Can Canola Oil Go Bad?

Similar to all oils, canola oil eventually becomes rancid, and the most straightforward way to identify this is by its scent. So, what’s the scent of spoiled canola oil? Many individuals compare the rancid odor to that of old paint, nail polish remover, or certain chemicals.

What’s the Shelf Life of Canola Oil?

Unopened canola oil remains suitable for 12 to 24 months. Once opened, the oil maintains its optimal quality for 6 to 12 months, although it often retains its quality for an additional couple of months before developing an unpleasant odor or a harsh taste.

Is Refrigeration Necessary for Canola Oil?

No, refrigeration is not required for canola oil. Storing it in a cool and dark place is perfectly sufficient. As long as the bottle is tightly sealed and kept away from sources of heat, the oil can last for several months without needing refrigeration.