Sesame oil adds flavor to dishes thanks to its nutty, toasty taste. Chinese, Indian, and Korean dishes all benefit from a generous splash of this oil. However, sesame often plays second fiddle to the more prevalent alternatives like olive and vegetable oil. It ends up sitting in the cupboard, perilously approaching its expiry.
The question is: how long does sesame oil last? Of course, you could check the expiry date. But, if you're like me, you may transfer your oil into your bottles once they get home from the store. Even if you do have the expiry label still intact, is it also reliable? It's common knowledge that food producers only provide a rough estimate of how long foods will last. This date is based on quality, not safety.
This article will look at the life expectancy of sesame oil as well as answer some related questions on effective storage and how to tell if it has gone bad.
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The estimated life of sesame oil
An opened bottle of sesame oil will last six months in the pantry and one year if kept in the fridge. An unopened bottle will last up to two years if stored in a cool, dry place in the pantry.
These times are a guideline for how long you can expect the oil to retain its taste, aroma, and visual appearance. In particular, sesame oil tends to lose its characteristic sesame taste within a year of opening. However, that doesn't mean its rancid. You could potentially get a further year out of the oil at a pinch.
|Unopened||Up to 2 years||2 years+|
|Opened||6 months||1 year|
How To Store Sesame Oil
Store unopened sesame oil in a cool, dark area that isn't subject to heat or sunlight. A kitchen cupboard, the pantry, or a cellar are all excellent options.
If you have plenty of freezer space, you may be tempted to extend the oil's life by storing it frozen. The problem with vegetable oils is that they turn hard when the temperature drops below -25°F (-4°C). This feature means you will need to heat the oil every time you want to use it, and pouring it out of the bottle will be impossible.
Opened sesame oil lasts longest in the refrigerator. But if you use this oil often, then free up some fridge space and leave it in the cupboard. It's likely to last long enough for you to use it all without any loss of quality. Remember to seal the lid securely on the bottle to stop air getting in.
These guidelines apply to all types of sesame oil, including roasted, light, cold-pressed.
Best by dates and food wastage
Consumers tend to obsess over "best by" labels of food. It is important to remember that these are an estimate provided by the manufacturer. There are instances where food has been found a decade past its expiry and still been okay. The reason these dates are hard to predict is due to several variables: age and quality of sesame seeds used in productions, the suitability of storage, climate, packaging quality are a few.
The best way to decide if sesame oil is still okay is to do a quick test.
Smell the oil
If the odor of your sesame has turned into an acrid stench, then dispose of immediately.
Cold-pressed oil should have a pale yellow color; Indian sesame oil has a darker shade, closer to golden; toasted sesame oil is a darker shade.
If you're still unsure, place a drop of the oil on your tongue. An unpleasant, bitter taste is a warning; it is time to toss the oil out.
Can rancid sesame oil make you sick?
If you decide to consume rancid oil, it isn't a guarantee that you will do your body harm. But it isn't advisable either. Rancid oil can develop potentially toxic compounds linked to a range of health complications [source]. But the flavor is enough to ruin your entire meal, so don't ever use it in cooking.
Which sesame oil is best for cooking?
The best sesame oil for cooking will come down to personal preference, as well as what you're using it for. Cold-pressed oil is made without chemicals or heat and is the purest option.
For maximum flavor and aroma, a toasted sesame oil (aka black or Asian oil) is ideal. The heat will reduce its intensity, so add this oil towards the end of cooking.
Light sesame oil is low in flavor but can withstand higher heat. It is suitable for dressings, stirfrying, roasting, or sautéing. This product is a cheaper oil, ideal for those on a tight budget.
Fasts facts about sesame oil
- Sesame oil is rich in zinc, making it a useful food for improving your skin and reducing signs of aging.
- Dark sesame oil uses toasted sesames and adds delicious flavor to Asian stirfries, sauces, and salad dressings.
- Sesame seeds are often used for sweet dishes in Mediterranean cooking.
- It is believed that sesame seeds were one of the first plants to be used for edible oil.
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As a general rule, opened sesame oil will last six months in the pantry or one year in the fridge. However, guidelines can vary, so your best option is to do a physical check of the product occasionally. To stay on the safe side, pick up a fresh bottle from the store if you're unsure.
Sesame oil provides a pleasant taste to your food, so whether to keep or discard shouldn't be solely focused on rancidity. Over time, it will lose its flavor, which means it isn't as useful in Asian or Middle Eastern cooking when you seek extra nutty, toasty goodness.
Properly sealed and stored sesame oil will extend its life significantly and prevent spoilage. A tightly sealed bottle top is often an afterthought when you're busy chopping, slicing and sautéing. Vigilant storage will play a big part in getting the most out of all your cooking oils.
What is your favorite oil for cooking with? Let us know in the comments below.