Does Coconut Oil Go Bad And What Are The Signs That It Has Expired?

Coconut oil is commonly used for cooking and cosmetic purposes. Though it has a long shelf life, if you have had an opened jar sitting in your cupboard for a couple of months, you may now be questioning whether it has expired or not.

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Coconut oil contains around 90% saturated fat and whilst it does have a generous shelf life, it is eventually going to expire. 

There are two different types of coconut oil. The first is refined coconut oil which comes from the kernel or copra of the coconut (coconut meat).

Does Coconut Oil Go Bad And what Are The Signs That It Has Expired

The coconuts in this oil are boiled before the oil is extracted. Natural earthen bleaching clay is then used to kill off any microbes and remove any unwanted particles. As it has a high smoke point, it is a particularly favorable option for cooking and baking.

It also doesn’t have a strong smell or flavor. Well produced refined coconut oil can last for a year to eighteen months so long as it is stored correctly. 

The second type is virgin coconut oil. This type of oil is extracted from the milk or meat of a coconut via a cold press.

Unlike refined coconut oil, it has a more noticeable scent and flavor. Furthermore, it also has a lower smoking point than refined coconut oil so you're better off using it for baking purposes, or you may wish to add it to a salad for some flavor.

Although it isn’t refined it still contains the natural antioxidants in the oil. This type of coconut oil can last for up to 5 years. 

As mentioned, coconut oil has multiple purposes. Not only can it be used for a cooking oil, but you will often identify this ingredient in many hair and skincare products.

Because coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties, it's good for irritated skin. It also traps moisture to keep your skin hydrated.

When used on your hair, it will moisturize it and protect it from damage. It’s also gentle enough to use on puppies and babies. 

If you are unsure whether your coconut oil has expired, below we have identified 5 signs to look out for. Spoiled coconut oil should be discarded straight away. 

Expired coconut oil - 5 signs that it has gone bad

The taste, smell, and appearance are typically the most obvious ways of identifying whether your coconut oil has surpassed its expiration date. We have gone into more detail about each of these factors below.

Change in color

Coconut oil is typically clear colored and solid white when it is solid. If your coconut oil has started to turn yellow it is likely that it has begun to deteriorate as it has passed its expiry date.

An intense scent

Rancid coconut oil is likely to smell rather pungent. Normally, refined coconut oil has a neutral scent, whilst virgin coconut oil (or unrefined coconut oil) has a coconut scent. If your coconut oil does not smell fresh, the chances are that it isn't. Like any refined oil like vegetable oil, it's probably bad coconut oil.

Spotty appearance

As touched upon, coconut oil is typically one solid color, however, visible black dots may be signs of mold growth. It can be difficult to tell how severe the mold growth is, so you should discard the oil upon noticing any black dots regardless of how small they are.

A sharp taste

Whether it's used in cooking or tasted on its own, coconut oil typically has a natural taste. If it has gone bad and is rancid coconut oil, you are likely to notice that it tastes quite sour.

Chunky consistency

Typically, coconut oil has a smooth consistency. However, when expired it will turn quite chunky, similar to curdled milk. You may also notice floating blotchy particles.

What are the side effects of using expired coconut oil?

If you have consumed gone off coconut oil, you may not feel any difference in yourself straight away.

Instead, it can have an impact on your long-term health. Spoiled oil produces harmful free radicals which may damage arteries and DNA cells.

Furthermore, there are concerns associated with the possible link to cancer. Because of this, it is important to be cautious when consuming coconut oil. If you suspect that it may be rancid you should not consume it. 

How should coconut oil be stored?

Coconut oil can be stored anywhere in your home that is dark and dry, e.g the fridge, pantry, or even at room temperature. Exposure to heat, light, or oil will cause it to go bad just like coconut milk.

Due to the time that it takes to oxidize, it will not go bad straight away if it is kept in the right place. 

The oil should be kept in a sealed, airtight container. This is because oxygen can break down the oil. 

It is important to make sure that your coconut oil is stored correctly. As it has a melting point of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit it will turn into a liquid if the temperature in the room exceeds this. 

Coconut oil comes in two forms; solid and liquid. When stored inside the refrigerator it will remain solid and when it is stored at room temperature it will remain a liquid. 

You will need to ensure that the temperature does not fluctuate. If it does, it will make the oil expire sooner. 

Contamination can lead to the development of mold. For this reason, it is important to make sure that only clean utensils come into contact with the oil.

Final Thoughts

Coconut oil is a versatile ingredient that has multiple uses. Depending on the type that you choose, when used for cooking or baking it adds a nice coconut taste to recipes. Aside from this, it also has many health benefits.

It is important to remember that coconut oil can expire and whilst it might take a long time to do so, you should not consume it if you suspect that it has gone off because it isn't good for your health.

Instead, you should throw it away. Finally, multiple signs will help you to identify whether your coconut oil has expired. Pure coconut oil made from fresh coconut or fresh coconut meat has many uses. Spoilage is a problem with any food. Just store responsibly whether you're using your virgin coconut oil as an essential oil, salad dressing, or olive oil substitute. That way you can avoid spoilage and rancidity.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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