Coconut oil is a popular culinary and beauty staple. From frying up a delicious meal to moisturizing skin and hair, its uses are diverse. However, like all good things, coconut oil doesn’t last forever. Knowing when your oil is past its prime is crucial, as using expired coconut oil can harm your health.
While coconut oil boasts a relatively long shelf life compared to other oils, that bottle gathering dust in the back of your pantry might need a second look.
This guide discusses how long coconut oil lasts, signs that indicate it’s time to toss it, and tips to extend its shelf life.
Quality of Coconut Oil
If you want to have your oil last longer you need to take good care of it from the get-go. It all starts with purchasing a quality product. You need to know that not all oils on the market are made from the same coconut or are of the same quality. There are plenty of factors that contribute to the overall quality of coconut oil. If you want the best product available first pay attention to sourcing. Depending on the region of origin coconut can differ in flavor and texture profile.
Next in line is the processing method. Depending on the method used, the quality of oil or milk can differ quite a bit. The purity of oil depends on the pressing method which can be hot or cold. You must choose oils that come with more natural nutrients present in this fruit. So, if you have these traits of coconut oil in mind you need to buy from premium brands and reputable suppliers. Quality and transparency in sourcing shouldn’t be compromised for cheaper product.
The Shelf Life of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is renowned for its longer shelf life, especially compared to other edible oils. Unfined (virgin) coconut oil typically lasts up to three years, while refined coconut oil has a shelf life of about 18 months.
These durations can vary based on storage conditions and whether the jar has been opened. This longevity is partly due to its high saturated fat content, which resists rancidity.
Signs of Expired Coconut Oil
Knowing when coconut oil has gone bad is key to avoiding its use in your cooking or beauty routine. Here is a list of some tell-tale signs to watch out for.
Change in Smell
Fresh coconut oil typically has a sweet, slightly nutty aroma. If it starts to smell sour, rancid, or generally off, it clearly indicates that the oil has expired.
Change in Appearance
Virgin coconut oil should be white in its solid form and clear when liquid. If you notice any discoloration, like yellowing or dark spots, it’s a sign of spoilage.
An expiring coconut oil also changes its texture. Coconut oil should have a smooth consistency. Any signs of mold growth or a gritty texture suggest it’s no longer good.
If you’re unsure based on smell and appearance, a small taste can confirm the oil’s status. Spoiled coconut oil will have a stale or unpleasant taste. However, it’s important only to do this if there are no signs of mold.
Even if the oil seems fine, consider how long you’ve had it. If it’s significantly past the expected shelf life (three years for virgin oil, 18 months for refined), it is best to replace it.
Tips to Extend Coconut Oil’s Shelf Life
Properly storing coconut oil significantly prolongs its lifespan. Here are some tips to keep your coconut oil fresh for as long as possible:
- Store in a Cool, Dark Place: Exposure to heat and light accelerates the spoilage of coconut oil. Store the oil in a cool, dark cupboard or pantry away from direct sunlight and heat sources like stoves or radiators. You’ll also want to use a dark bottle to store your oil; make sure to only purchase from a supplier who packages their oil like this, like Wholesale Botanics.
- Keep the Container Sealed Tightly: Ensure the coconut oil container is sealed tightly after each use. This prevents contamination and reduces the oil’s exposure to air, which leads to oxidation.
- Use Clean Utensils: Always use a clean, dry spoon when scooping out coconut oil. Allowing moisture or food particles promotes bacterial growth and spoilage.
- Consider Refrigeration in Warm Climates: Refrigerating coconut oil in warmer climates can help maintain consistency and prolong its shelf life. In cooler temperatures, coconut oil solidifies, making it harder to use, so refrigeration is optional, depending on your local climate and usage habits.
- Avoid Cross-Contamination: If you use coconut oil for cooking and beauty purposes, consider keeping separate jars to prevent cross-contamination.
- Avoid Buying Extra: If you use coconut oil infrequently, buy smaller jars to reduce the chance of the oil going bad before you can use it. This is especially useful for virgin coconut oil, which has a shorter shelf life than refined versions.
- Check for Signs of Spoilage Regularly: Even with the best storage practices, it’s a good habit to check your coconut oil regularly for any spoilage, especially if it has been stored for an extended period.
Coconut oil is a versatile and valuable component of our kitchens and beauty routines. However, its benefits are best enjoyed when the oil is fresh and of good quality. A virgin coconut oil has the longest shelf life, three years, than all other oils. But a refined version only lasts up to 18 months.
By following the simple yet effective tips discussed above, you can ensure that your coconut oil lasts longer and stays safe for your culinary and beauty needs. You can extend the shelf life of your coconut oil by storing it in a cool, dark place, keeping the container tightly sealed, and using clean utensils to avoid contamination.