Is my canola oil still safe to use?
August 4, 2009 6:12 AM   Subscribe

Is my canola oil still okay to use?

Hive-Mind Foodies, I need your help! I bought a gallon jug of canola oil over the weekend and, by mistake, I left it in the trunk of my car for the last two days. During those two days we have had bright sunshine with temps in the high 80's-low 90's. So my question is this: Is that oil still safe to use in food preparation? I've always read that you should store oils in a cool, dark, place so that they don't spoil, but, I'd hate to throw away such a large amount of oil if it was still alright to use. Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!
posted by Hanuman1960 to Food & Drink (6 answers total)
Smell it. Does it smell like latex paint? If so, it's rancid. If not, it's fine.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:18 AM on August 4, 2009

I should add - actually cooking with rancid oil won't (shouldn't) make you sick, but it will definitely taste off.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:20 AM on August 4, 2009

Yeah, the Sniff Test is all you need here. You'll definitely know if the oil is rancid, even if you've never smelled rancid oil before.
posted by Dr. Wu at 7:23 AM on August 4, 2009

It's most likely fine and the sniff test is fine. Canola isn't that temperamental. Since you've done a bit of damage to it, though, I'd probably store the bulk of it in the freezer and only draw off what you're going to use a week or two at a time.
posted by paanta at 7:38 AM on August 4, 2009

From the Canola Council of Canada's FAQ:

Q: Does canola oil turn rancid quickly?

A: No. Canola oil’s shelf life stored at room temperature is about one year. Except for flaxseed oil, the shelf life of other vegetable oils stored at room temperature is similar. Flaxseed oil should be stored in the refrigerator.
posted by torquemaniac at 10:34 AM on August 4, 2009

In addition to what others have said, if it was still sealed in its original, airtight container it would be unlikely to have been affected much, because it wasn't exposed to air (beyond the little bit in the jug already) and oxgygenation is a component of rancidification. Although it might have gotten hot in your car, it was nowhere near as hot as it gets when being used for deep frying; if done properly canola can be used several times for frying before it needs to be discarded. Finally, unless your oil was made locally and kept in airconditioned/refrigerated storage until you bought it, it was probably stored in a warehouse and/or transported in the back of a truck that in summer could easily approximate the conditions in the trunk of your car.
posted by TedW at 12:23 PM on August 4, 2009

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