Coconut oil is a beauty and household staple. But like all oils, it expires. Thankfully, it has a long shelf-life of around 3 years when stored properly.
Having some on standby is always a good idea, but does coconut oil expire? Should you re-think using that long-forgotten bottle lurking at the back of the cupboard? Well, it depends. Thankfully, the coconut shelf life is pretty long, but there are a few things to consider before you swish it around your mouth or pour it into your coffee.
To ensure that you’re getting the most out of your product and side-step any potential probs, continue reading to find out how long before coconut oil goes bad and how to tell if coconut oil is bad.
Like any other food product, coconut oil can go bad. The good news is that it’s designed to be resilient, so you have plenty of time before that happens.
Coconut oil comes in two varieties — unrefined or virgin coconut oil and refined oil. Unrefined coconut oil is pressed from coconut meat and has natural coconut scent and flavor. It undergoes no further processing.
Refined oil is pressed from copra, which is dried coconut meat. It may then be degummed, washed to remove free fatty acids, bleached, and deodorized. It has no significant coconut scent or flavor.
And why does this matter? Because the shelf life of coconut oil varies depending on its form. Unrefined virgin coconut oil is the longest lasting, boasting a shelf life of up to 3 years when stored properly. On the other hand, refined coconut oil has a much shorter shelf life and should be used within 18 months of opening the jar or bottle.
However, after around 12 months, the levels of beneficial fatty acids begin to fall, so it’s best to replace your coconut oil each year.
Generally, the reason why coconut oil goes bad is that it’s been exposed to air and light. This causes a process called oxidation, where the fatty acid chains in the oil break down and form unstable compounds called free radicals.
Oils, including coconut oil, may go rancid and develop a nasty smell and flavor if incorrectly stored. The main factors that cause rancidity are:
- some metals
- bacteria and other germs
So, to make your coconut oil last longer and remain in good condition, store it carefully!
If you can’t find the expiry date or want to double-check, you can use your senses to tell if the oil is still good.
- Smell. A strong smell of coconut is a sign that virgin oil is still fresh, while an unpleasant odor could mean it’s turning rancid. Ask yourself if it smells sour, musty, or like paint. In this case, it’s time to bin it. Remember, though, that refined oil shouldn’t have any coconut scent.
- Appearance. Coconut oil should look white or slightly yellow. If it’s gone darker, has a strange color, or is cloudy with floating black or other colored particles, it’s probably past its best. It could also have nasties growing, forming little colonies. Yuck!
- Texture. Fresh coconut oil will either be a liquid or solid, depending on whether you store it at room temperature or in the fridge. If it’s a liquid, it should have a thick, glossy texture. If it’s solid, it should have an even texture. If your oil becomes grainy, runny, or like curdled milk, you need to ditch it.
- Taste. A brief lick should reveal a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. If it’s sour, bitter, or even tasteless, then it’s time to say goodbye.
The secret to making sure your coconut oil lasts longer is proper storage. Here’s what you need to do to keep it fresh AF:
- Keep it sealed. Coconut oil will go bad faster if you don’t keep it tightly closed to prevent air and light from entering. So make sure that the cap is on firmly after every use.
- Avoid direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can speed up oxidation, so store your coconut oil in a dark, dry place to slow down the process.
- Refrigerate. Refrigerating your coconut oil can help to extend its shelf life, as it’s less prone to oxidation. Just make sure it’s sealed properly.
- Avoid heat. If you don’t want to keep your oil in the fridge, it’s still best to store it away from any heat sources. Choose a pantry cupboard or drawer in a cool area of your house. So avoid spaces near the cooker or oven.
- Be clean. Only use clean utensils to take out your coconut oil. Using a dirty spoon from the side of the sink can introduce bacteria and food particles, which can accelerate the spoilage process.
- Buy in small batches. Get enough coconut oil to last a few months to avoid it going bad before you use it. Think about what you plan to use the oil for and how much you’ll use. Investing in a gallon jug might not be the best idea if you’re only using the odd spoonful here and there.
Keeping your coconut oil fresh and safe to eat or use isn’t rocket science. With just a bit of extra care and attention, you can ensure your oil lasts for months or even years!
Coconut oil is a versatile, flavorful, and healthy cooking and household staple. However, even though it has a long shelf life, it can still go bad if not stored correctly.
You can check for freshness by looking for changes in smell, appearance, texture, and taste. If you’re unsure, chucking the oil away is a wise move.
To preserve your coconut oil for as long as possible and prevent it from getting rancid, seal the bottle tightly after every use and store it in a cool, dark, and dry spot. Refrigeration can help extend its shelf life even further. Finally, only use clean utensils to take out your coconut oil and buy small batches to avoid waste. With these tips, you can ensure your coconut oil stays fresh and safe to use every time.