Coconut Oil’s Shelf Life
Given the wide range of uses for coconut oil, from cooking to beauty hacks and beyond, keeping it on hand at home is a no-brainer. But how do you know when coconut oil expires? Here’s a quick guide to storing your coconut oil and keeping it at its best.
The Short Answer
In general, coconut oil’s shelf life is estimated to be about 18-36 months for refined coconut oil and three to five years for virgin coconut oil. However, this timespan can vary depending on a number of factors, including storage conditions, climate, and exposure to other ingredients.
The Slightly Longer Answer
Beginning with how coconut oil is processed to how it’s stored and used, multiple variables can have an impact on determining when your coconut oil goes bad. Here are just a few of the elements that can play a role in your coconut oil’s shelf life:
Where You Live
While coconut oil is no stranger to heat by nature, extreme weather can pose a threat to coconut oil. If you live in an area that experiences extreme heat, particularly for longer durations of time, consider stowing your coconut oil in the refrigerator (but be advised that this will cause your coconut oil to harden, making it more difficult to work with).
How It Was Made
Whether or not it’s refined plays a major role in coconut oil’s shelf life. While refined coconut oil still has an impressive shelf life, virgin coconut oil that hasn’t been processed can last up to twice as long.
What It’s Been Exposed To
Odds are, you store your coconut oil solo, but if you’ve mixed it with anything else or use the same utensil for multiple ingredients without washing it in between, you may be unwittingly expediting the rate at which your coconut oil expires. The same goes for adding newer coconut oil to an older batch, or mixing refined and virgin coconut oil in one container.
Optimally Storing Your Coconut Oil
As with most things, taking good care of your coconut oil can help to extend your coconut oil’s shelf life. Here are a few tips for keeping it in good shape!
Store It at Room Temperature
The consistency of your coconut oil may vary depending on the weather (for example, it may fully liquify during the summer and fully solidify during the winter), and this is perfectly normal. Coconut oil does not need to be refrigerated.
Seal It Tightly
Exposure to the air can speed up the expiration process, and can subject coconut oil to dust and pollutants.
If you transfer your coconut oil to another container, be sure to mark it with the type of coconut oil, the date of first use, and the Best By date from the original container. While Best By dates are neither safety guidelines nor hard and fast rules, they can offer a good estimate of when you might expect your coconut oil to expire.
How to Track Your Coconut Oil’s Shelf Life
A simple labeling system can go a long way toward tracking the longevity of your coconut oil and other items in your kitchen. Mark products when they’re first used, then adhere to a simple monthly or bimonthly cadence of checking your labels to what’s nearing an expiration timeframe. If you don’t like visible labels, consider using a label maker or sticker system to mark the bottoms of your containers. You might also consider reorganizing your pantry to optimize space and keep items from getting lost in the shuffle, with often-used ingredients (like coconut oil) front and center.
How to Know When Coconut Old Has Gone Bad
While it typically takes quite a bit of time to reach this point, when coconut oil expires, it’s usually not difficult to tell. Here are the most salient signs that coconut oil is past its shelf life.
Coconut oil is typically pure white in color. If it’s gone bad, its color may appear a bit yellow, tan, or inconsistent in color tone. Black or green are the worst colors to see, as they may indicate the presence of mold.
Coconut oil is generally smooth, whereas expired coconut oil may appear chunky. It’s worth noting that granularity or softness caused by temperature fluctuations do not indicate that coconut oil went bad.
Rancid coconut oil tends to have a distinctively bitter or sour smell.
While the investigation hopefully never makes it this far, expired coconut oil will have a sour taste that matches its odor.
Making the Most of Your Coconut Oil
The incredible length of coconut oil’s shelf life is one of the many reasons we love using this key ingredient in cooking, baking, and even self care and household projects. Discover some of our favorite coconut oil recipes to support clean eating and a healthy lifestyle. And of course, be sure to follow our blog for the latest tips, tricks, and life hacks from Wildly Organic!