Do you have to use olive oil by its expiration date?

It is generally wise to follow the expiration dates on the bottles of all oils. Over time oils can “go bad” or become rancid. Generally the culprits that contribute towards rancidity are heat, light, and oxygen. These elements can generate free radicals, which can eventually lead to rancidity (“going bad”) and oxidation. Rancid oils have a pungent smell and acrid taste, which tends to linger in your mouth.

The best way to help prevent oil from becoming rancid is to store it in a tinted glass container or a stainless steel container, to limit light’s entry. I recommend not purchasing oil with dust on the bottle, implying that it has been there for some time. Also try to limit purchase of oils that are in the front of a display, as they likely have been subjected to intense supermarket lights. Some experts suggest that you store oil in a wine cellar (degrees of about 54 F). Others state that a 70 degree room (dark cool cupboard away from appliances) will be just fine. One can store oil in the refrigerator, but keep in mind that the oil may solidify and turn cloudy, which would make it hard to use (especially if part of a salad dressing).

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