Have you ever thought of enhancing the taste of your olive oil? You should try infused olive oil. Infusing olive oil gives you more room to use it in a variety of delicious dishes.
However, while it makes an interesting change from regular olive oil, it can go bad fast. In this article, we will discuss how long you should keep a bottle of infused olive oil on your shelves.
We will also give you some valuable information on how to store infused olive oil to maintain its freshness.
What Is Infused Olive Oil?
Infused olive oil is a type of olive oil whose flavor and aroma have been enhanced by adding herbs, spices, and other flavoring agents to it. This occurs through cold or hot infusion methods.
Cold olive oil infusions are made by soaking herbs and spices in oil for 2-6 weeks, while heated olive oil infusions are made by warming herbs and spices in the oil. These methods of infusion give regular olive oil a unique herbal or spicy taste.
Here’s a quick guide on how to make infused olive oil at home.
The Shelf Life of Store-Bought Infused Olive Oils
Adding your favorite spices and herbs to olive oil makes it more appealing to your taste buds. It also gives it additional nutritional value due to the ingredients used, such as garlic, onion, and herbs.
However, infused olive oil gets spoilt faster because some herbs and spices used to make it have a short shelf life.
This makes people who infuse olive oil or buy it from the store wonder which type of olive oil last longer.
The shelf life of store-bought infused olive oil is up to a year when unopened and 3-6 months when opened. Ideally, you should spend it within a month or two.
These store-bought oils last long because they are prepared and packed in airtight containers in hygienic conditions.
The Shelf Life of Homemade Infused Olive Oils
Some people prefer to prepare their infused olive oil at home. While this allows them to experiment with different olive oil infusions, it shortens the shelf life of these oils.
A significant factor that contributes to this is the conditions under which the oil is infused.
For example, if the oil is exposed to contaminants during infusion, it grows bacteria or molds fast. And if the oil is stored in containers that expose it to air, moisture, or light, it gets rancid very quickly.
Although some cooking experts suggest you can keep an opened bottle of infused olive oil for up to 6 months, it’s best to use it up in a short while. This is because opening the bottle during cooking gradually exposes it to air and moisture, causing it to lose its freshness.
Therefore, try to only use a bottle of homemade infused olive oil for 4-5 weeks regardless of where you store it.
Factors Affecting the Shelf Life of Infused Olive Oil
Sometimes infused olive oil gets rancid faster than you would expect. Here are several reasons why it happens.
The Type of Infusion
Heat-infused olive oils have a bit shorter life than cold-infused olive oils. That’s because, through the process of heating the herbs and spices, you’re also heating the olive oil, which reduces its shelf-life a little bit.
So, if your goal is to make an infused olive oil that will last as long as possible, you should go for a cold-infusing method.
The Herbs and Spices Used in the Infusion
Most ingredients used to infuse olive oil, such as garlic, citrus, and fresh herbs, can encourage the growth of bacteria and mold.
This is why olive oils infused with wet ingredients can only stay fresh for a short time as compared to those made with dry herbs.
With that said, always go for infused olive oils made with dry herbs and spices if you want the oil to last longer.
The Quality of Olive Oil
The perfect oil to use when making herbal or spice infusions is cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). It is packed with polyphenols and antioxidants that add to the nutritional value of infused olive oil.
EVOO also has a distinct flavor that compliments most of the wet and dry ingredients used in oil infusions. Its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties also make it the perfect oil for herbal and spice infusions because it prevents bacterial contamination (to some degree).
Some of the high-quality extra virgin olive oils to use in olive oil are Greek olive oils, Croatian olive oils, and Spanish olive oils. Of course, don’t be limited by it. Any high-quality EVOO is great for infusing.
The Storage Method
Infused olive oil can expire faster than regular olive oil. This is why some people store it in the refrigerator. However, if the fridge is too cold, it can degrade the structure of the olive oil, spoiling its taste and aroma.
This can also happen if you store the oil close to a source of heat, such as a stove, where you’ll notice the oil developing a cloudy appearance.
The best place to store infused olive oil is in a cool, dry place, such as a kitchen cupboard, for no longer than a month. If you want to use it for 30+ days, consider keeping it in the refrigerator, but the temperatures shouldn’t go below 5 degrees Celsius.
You should also keep the oil in proper containers for storing olive oil. These are dark glass bottles, ceramic bottles, or inox bottles and jars.
The darkness of these bottles preserves the antioxidants in the oil, ensuring it retains its beautiful color, authentic taste, and nutritional value.
Tips For Preserving Infused Olive Oils
Adding herbs and spices to olive oil can lower its shelf life. However, there are ways to make your infused olive oil stay fresh longer.
Here are 5 tips for preserving infused olive oils:
- Choosing cold-infused olive oil, which has a longer shelf life than heat-infused oils. This is because the cold-infusion method doesn’t rush the process, and with lower temperatures, the oil will stay fresh for longer.
- Storing infused olive oil in airtight, dark containers (glass, inox, or ceramic) instead of plastic containers also maintains their freshness.
- Cleaning the containers in which you store your infused olive oil also makes a difference. Infused olive oil is more likely to encourage the growth of bacteria and mold than plain olive oil. Therefore, if you use homemade infused olive oil, thoroughly disinfect the containers you use to store it.
- Infused olive oil can get rancid pretty fast, so it would be best always to buy small bottles of olive oil and use them within a month. If you notice any funny smell, change in color, or sour taste, discard it and buy a fresh bottle.
- While flavored oils with the infusion ingredients in them look appealing to the eye, these additives can encourage mold and bacterial growth. So, remember to remove any herbs and spices from infused olive oil to lengthen its shelf life.
How To Know If Infused Olive Oil Has Gone Bad?
You may do all these things (above) but doubt the freshness of your olive oil. This is because the added aroma and flavor from the ingredients used to infuse it can cover any signs of rancidity.
So, for most people out there, the easiest way to spot if infused olive oil has gone bad is by its color. Rancid oil has a cloudy appearance. It may also lose its vibrant greenish-yellow color and release a musty, off-putting smell. If you spot these signs, it’s time to buy or make a fresh bottle of infused olive oil.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you freeze infused olive oil?
Although some people store olive oil in the freezer to keep it fresh, this will destroy its nutritional content. So, you should avoid freezing infused olive oils (and olive oils in general), as this may reduce the amount of polyphenol content inside the bottle.
Can you leave herbs in infused olive oil?
Yes, it is completely doable to leave herbs in infused olive oil. However, that may reduce the shelf life a lot, so keep that in mind. If you really want to do it, only do it with 100% dry ingredients.
How to prevent botulism in infused olive oils?
There is a danger that the herbs and spices you use to infuse olive oil can cause bacteria such as clostridium botulinum to grow in it. You can prevent this by acidifying the herbs and spices you use to infuse the oil using citric acid before adding them to the oil. Just soak the herbs and spices in a citric acid solution for 24 hours prior to adding them to your oil.
Do I need to refrigerate infused olive oil?
You do not need to store infused olive oil in the fridge. However, if you want to get the maximum out of its shelf life, you can keep it in a refrigerator. Just make sure that the refrigerator doesn’t operate at too low temperatures, as this may cause the oil to freeze and degrade in quality.
And there you have it. Once again, store-bought infused oils may last up to 2 years unopened and up to a month or two when opened. On the other hand, homemade infused olive oils may last up to 2 months in total. My recommendation is always to consume the oil as quickly as possible (under a month) to enjoy its full taste and all the benefits.
Lastly, if you’re buying infused oils in the store, don’t forget to check the label, as every manufacturer may have different shelf lives.