Cooking oils and fats are really useful items to have in your prepper’s pantry. As with anything in a prepper’s pantry, the big question is can they be stored long term? The answer, as with most long shelf life foods, really depends on how you store it. Cooking oil and fat can be stored for several years if stored correctly. They will not, however, last anywhere near as long if not stored well.
There are many different types of cooking oils; various types of vegetable oils as well as animal and vegetable fats. The advice in this article applies to storing any type of cooking oil long term, although some types last longer.
Does Cooking Oil Go Bad?
Cooking oil doesn’t go bad in the same way we think of with most foods. When food goes bad, often that means that bacteria are growing on or in the food. Bacteria can’t grow in cooking oil, instead the oil goes rancid. Rancidity is the oxidation or hydrolysis caused by exposure to oxygen, moisture, heat or light.
Rancidity destroys some of the vitamins in the cooking oil and can make the oil smell and taste bad. Eating rancid cooking oil will not give you food poisoning in the same way that eating rotten food would. However, rancidity can sometimes form toxic compounds in cooking oil that may lead to long term health issues.
Which Type Of Cooking Oil Lasts Longest?
Hydrogenated fats last significantly longer than non-hydrogenated. There has been a lot of controversy involving hydrogenated fats over recent years. This is mainly because partially hydrogenated fats (trans fats) are proven to be very unhealthy. Although not actually banned in the UK, the majority of large UK retailers no longer stock hydrogenated cooking fats.
- Crisco is a vegetable based shortening containing hydrogenated vegetable oils. The manufacturer gives a shelf life of around 2 years, but stored properly it can last several more years.
- Groundnut or peanut oil can be stored for at least 3 years.
- Olive oil also lasts for at least 3 years when stored correctly.
- Sunflower oil is relatively inexpensive to buy, and can be stored for 1-2 years.
- Rapeseed (or canola) oil will also last for 1-2 years and is also fairly cheap to buy.
- Coconut oil is another cooking oil that lasts for around 1-2 years, but is more expensive.
- Lard, an animal derived cooking fat, will last around 9 months.
The shelf lives of all of these products relies on being stored correctly. If not stored correctly, the shelf lives of these cooking oils will be drastically reduced.
The Best Ways To Store Cooking Oil Long Term
To store cooking oil long term, you need to prevent it from going rancid. The things that make cooking oil go rancid are: oxygen, moisture, light and heat. Therefore to extend the shelf life, the cooking oil must be stored to prevent these things from affecting it.
Always store cooking oil in a cool, dark place. This will prevent light and heat causing the oil to go rancid.
When you buy cooking oil, keep it in its original, unopened containers until you are ready to use it. Opening the container allows oxygen to access the oil, starting the oxidation process that will eventually lead to the oil going rancid.
The shelf life of cooking oils can be further extended by refrigerating or even freezing. Frozen cooking oil will last for many years, but large quantities are bulky and take up a lot of freezer space. Storing cooking oil in a freezer is therefore only an option to consider if you have a lot of spare freezer space.