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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.
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.
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.
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.