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Saturday, April 17, 2010

How to Store Oil Safely

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. 
Polyunsaturated oils can turn rancid before they actually smells 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??
oil 300x225 How to Store Oil Safelyolive oil image by fdecomite
Oil can be stored safely but will never have the long shelf lives of our other long-term storage foods.  Keep in mind the four main factors that affect shelf life:  light, oxygen, temperature, and time and apply them to the oils you store.

Keep oil in the dark.

Light is one of the main enemies of oil  Store oil away from any light, even if that means keeping the bottles inside a box.

Keep oil cool.

Refrigerate or freeze your oil to lengthen its’ shelf life.  If it thickens, just let it warm to room tempeature before using it.  Coconut oil is a great option to the oils we typically think of for cooking and baking.  Coconut oil can be kept refrigerated and has a longer shelf live than other oils since it is a saturated fat.

Keep track of time.

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.

Keep oxygen out.

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.
Some food storage experts have given up on storing oil long-term and have switched to storing shortening.  It can easily be stored in 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.  Now, if you’re dieting, you’re probably staying away from oils, but imagine if you were in an emergency situation, 100% reliant on your food storage.  Chances would be very good that between a much higher level of stress and, possibly, 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.  Oil is just one item that will require a bit more attention in our storage pantries.
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