You can freeze vegetable oil, and doing so will increase its shelf life for up to two years. Many people do it because it allows for bulk buying and can also help extend shelf life in hotter climates.
Just keep in mind that vegetable oil does not freeze in the same manner that other things like water, vegetables, and meat freeze. In order to get a better picture of the process and why we might freeze it, let’s discuss this in more detail.
Why Do We Want To Freeze Vegetable Oil?
Since vegetable oil is one of those food items we frequently use that already have a long shelf life, why would we want to freeze it? Actually, there are at least a couple of good reasons to freeze vegetable oil.
- Bulk Buying- Many people, for various reasons, buy vegetable oil in bulk. So, for those situations where there is a lot of vegetable oil on hand, we want to make sure that it stays good and does not become rancid before it can be used. Those reasons for buying in bulk include:
- Finding our preferred brand on sale at a very good price.
- Living in a remote area with limited opportunity to make a trip to the grocery.
- Simply preferring to keep a good supply of all basic food items on hand at all times.
- Hot Climates- Living in a climate, especially one that is very hot and humid, where food goes bad more quickly than in other areas.
How Vegetable Oil Freezes
Even though it is possible to freeze vegetable oil, it does not freeze like other liquids.
In fact, the temperature at which it becomes solid is roughly 12 to 16 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the type of oil, unlike water which freezes at 32℉. But, most home freezers are set at 0℉, making sure the oil will be preserved in the freezer for up to 2 years.
Even if the vegetable oil does not become completely solid in your freezer, it will become cloudy and may separate. But, the good news is that once the oil has been thawed, it will return to its original state and not show any ill effects from being frozen.
The taste and smell of the oil will not be affected.
What Is The Best Way To Freeze Vegetable Oil?
The best way to freeze vegetable oil is to put it into an airtight freezer-safe plastic container that holds the amount that we generally use within a few days and put the lid on tightly. For example:
- If we use vegetable oil in larger amounts as is needed for deep frying, for making salad dressings, or if we do a lot of baking with vegetable oil, then freeze it in larger plastic containers, like these found on Amazon.
- If we only use a very small amount of vegetable oil on a daily basis, such as for stir fries or making a batch of biscuits or cornbread, then the ideal method is to freeze the oil in an ice tray. I recommend a silicone, easy-release tray like this type from Amazon. And when firm, just dump the contents of the ice tray into a plastic freezer bag and close it tightly so that it is easy to just remove and thaw the amount of oil you need at any one time.
- Be sure to leave a sufficient amount of headspace at the top of the container to allow for expansion as the oil freezes.
How Should Vegetable Oil Be Thawed?
It is a very easy matter to thaw frozen vegetable oil. In fact, it can be frozen in several different ways.
- Simply set the frozen vegetable oil on the kitchen cabinet and let it thaw at room temperature if you are not in a rush to use it.
- For your convenience, remove a container of vegetable oil from the freezer and place it into the refrigerator overnight to thaw if you will not need to use it until the following day.
- If you are frying with the frozen vegetable oil, just drop the frozen oil into the skillet or pan as it is heating and let it thaw over the heat from the stovetop.
- Frozen vegetable oil can also be thawed in the microwave, which is the quickest method to be used if you need to use the oil right away.
Storing Vegetable Oil in the Freezer
The shelf life of vegetable oil can be significantly extended by freezing, and will last for up to two years. And, even though the frozen vegetable oil will appear cloudy and no longer clear and may even separate, it will return to its normal state once it has been thawed.
What Are Some Other Good Ways To Extend The Shelf Life Of Vegetable Oil?
There are other ways to extend the shelf life of vegetable oil without freezing it.
- Use the Fridge- If there is room in your refrigerator, your container of vegetable oil can be stored there and will keep for an extended period of time.
- Pantry or Root Cellar- Any unopened container of vegetable oil will keep for an extended period of time in your pantry, basement, closet, or any other cool, dry, and dark area in your house that is not subject to excessive heat or temperature changes.
The main idea is to keep vegetable oil away from heat or light.
A container of vegetable oil that has already been opened will keep longer when stored in a refrigerator or freezer, but will remain good for a longer period of time if it is kept in a cool, dry area that is away from any heat or light source.
Pro Tip: It is a good idea to store already opened vegetable oil in a cabinet not adjacent to your stove, hot water heater, or even close to your refrigerator, which generates heat from the motor.
Can I Freeze Vegetable Oil That Has Already Been Used?
It is not recommended that previously used vegetable oil be frozen. This is because it has already been exposed to bacteria in the air and in the foods that have been cooked with it, and freezing will not keep it from becoming spoiled and rancid.
However, used vegetable oil will keep if stored in an airtight container for up to 4 or 5 months.
Again, as with unopened containers of vegetable oil, used vegetable oil will have a longer shelf life if kept in an airtight container either in the refrigerator or in a cool, dry area away from any heat or light source.
How Can I Tell If My Vegetable Oil Is Spoiled And Should Be Discarded?
There are a couple of good ways to tell if your vegetable oil has spoiled and should not be used.
- Odor- The best indicator that your vegetable oil has gone bad is the smell. It will have a sharp odor that smells somewhat like old paint or nail polish remover, but any off odor is a good indication that the oil should not be used but should be immediately discarded.
- Moldy- Another indicator that your oil has spoiled is that it may have some mold around the top. This indicator will not always be present, but if you see any mold on top of the oil or around the top of the container, be sure that the oil is no longer used and is discarded immediately.
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For more, don’t miss Freezer Strategy | The 10 Do’s and Dont’s of Freezing Foods.
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