How do you feel about eating boiled food for every meal? If you’re not storing oil, that’s what you may end up eating every day, meal after meal. Quite a nightmare! Oil is tricky to store long-term, however, and I’ve noticed that some food storage books and websites don’t even address the issue.
Polyunsaturated oils can turn rancid before they actually smell that way, and rancid oils lose much of their nutritional value. There’s evidence that rancid oils contain free radicals, which can be a health threat. What’s a fried food lover to do??
Storing oil can be done safely but it will never have the long shelf lives of our other long-term storage foods. Keep in mind the four main factors that will affect shelf life: light, oxygen, temperature, and time and apply them to the oils you store.
Storing oil in the dark
Light is one of the main enemies of oil. You may have noticed that many oils come in very dark bottles — dark green, even black. The dark plastic or glass container helps keep the oil fresh for longer but you’ll also want to store oil in dark cupboard or pantry, where there is never any light. Store oil away from any light, even if that means keeping the bottles inside a box.
Refrigerate or freeze your oil to lengthen its’ shelf life. If it thickens, just let it warm to room temperature before using it. Coconut oil is a great option for the oils we typically think of for cooking and baking. Coconut oil can be kept refrigerated and has a longer shelf life than other oils since it is a saturated fat. If space is tight at your house, look around for anything you can clear out, give away, or store somewhere else in order to store your extra oil. Oil should NEVER, EVER be stored in the heat.
TIP– Do you know which oil/fat to use, how to use it and why? There are a variety of oils that have a different health benefit, enhance specific flavors and cook at various temperatures. Read more about the fats that you should be eating and storing in your home.
How long has it been?
The most important step in storing oil is keeping track of the date you purchased it and rotate it on a regular basis. By the time it reaches its stamped expiration date, it may already be too rancid to use. If you don’t use oil all that often, buy smaller bottles so you’ll be able to rotate through them more quickly. The rancid oil contains free radicals, which have been known to be a factor in inflammation and the destruction of cells and tissue. You can use rancid oil in other ways, like the ways listed in this article, but it shouldn’t be used for human consumption.
If you’ve stocked up on several bottles of oil, put yourself on a strict rotation basis, so the oil gets used up, and you replace it with a fresh bottle.
Keep oxygen out of stored oil
Obviously, you won’t be able to use oxygen absorbers in your bottles of oil! The only measure you can take is storing oil in jars and then using a Food Saver device to extract oxygen from the jar. Even that isn’t fool-proof.
Track your household’s consumption of oil to determine what size containers work best for you. Some families can work through a gallon of olive oil in just a couple of months, while that would be a year’s worth for others. Buy oil in containers that you know will be used up within 2 months or less. That means you will want to store 6-7 bottles for the year and then rotate, adding fresh oil every couple of months or so.
Some food storage experts have given up on storing oil long-term and have switched to storing shortening. Shortening can easily packed into canning jars, and with the use of a Food Saver, can be vacuum sealed for true long-term storage. When oil is called for in a recipe, the shortening is melted, and there’s your oil. A good compromise would be to store oil using the guidelines described above and store shortening in vacuum packed jars for storage up to several years.
TIP- Food storage isn’t an exact science, nor is it a “one size fits all” project. The best way to begin storing food is the KISS method. Find out if you are using the KISS method and why you should be!
Storing oil is worth the hassle
One important reason to store and use oil is that it quickly boosts our daily calorie count. If you’re dieting, you’re probably staying away from oils, but imagine if you were in an emergency situation and were 100% reliant on your food storage. Chances would be very good that between a much higher level of stress and more physical activity, your body will need well over 3,000 calories per day. Adding oils to recipes, salads, or even a tablespoon or two of flaxseed or coconut oil in a smoothie will provide extra calories, not to mention all the health benefits that come with using good oils.
TIP– Spice up your meals! Eating bland food for a while would be okay in a disaster, but why not avoid that. Oils and spices can make boring food exciting! Read about 28 oils and spices you need in your pantry to avoid bland food.
We can stack those buckets of wheat, rice, and beans, knowing they’ll be good for decades. Storing oil is just one item that will require a bit more attention in our food storage pantries.
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