Do Olives Go Bad? How Long Do Olives Last?

Olives come either in brine or oil and the better the quality, the more expensive they are.  In addition, most recipes call for a small number of olives, so you often have leftovers. You are probably wondering how long do olives last and if they go bad. Let’s see.

Quick Answer

Olives purchased in a can or jar from the grocery store can be stored on the pantry shelf until ready to use and should be good for 18-24 months.  Once opened, olives should be refrigerated and as long as they remain covered with the liquid in the jar or brine, they should be good for up to three weeks.  Olives purchased at the deli counter at your local supermarket should be stored in the refrigerator and are good for up to three weeks.

Olives can be a great addition to salads and other dishes.  Knowing how long yours will be good to use will help you to save money and ensure you use your olives before they go bad.

Do Olives Go Bad? How Long Do Olives Last?

Olives, once opened, are best stored in the refrigerator.  Knowing that once refrigerated your olives will be good for about three weeks helps you to plan how to use them before they go bad.

How Long Do Olives Last Outside

Olives purchased from the grocery store packed in brine or oil should be stored on the pantry shelf away from heat and light.  Once opened, the olives should be stored in the refrigerator.

Olives can be safely left out on the counter for a few hours, but they should then be returned to the refrigerator.  If too much time has passed and the olives appear to have spoiled, they should be thrown away.  Spoiled olives will have a different color, odor, or texture. Olives should be covered in brine so don’t discard that liquid from the jar until after they are all gone.

Olives purchased from the grocery store deli counter can also be left out for a few hours, but then should be returned to the refrigerator.  Remember to store them in an air-tight container and to keep them in brine as well.

How Long Do Olives Last in the Fridge

Olives, either packed in oil or brine, should be stored in the refrigerator once opened.  If the olives were in a jar they can be stored directly in the same jar, with the lid tightly secured.  Be sure to keep the brine covering the olives as that ensures the olives stay as fresh as they can for as long as they can. Olives purchased in a can should be transferred to a food storage container along with their brine and kept in the refrigerator.  The olives can stay in the can as long as they are covered.

Olives purchased from the deli counter of the grocery store should be kept in the refrigerator and should last up to a week.  When you’re purchasing these olives you want to look for the freshest olives and be sure to include some of the brine or oil in the to-go container.

While there is some variance among manufacturer recommendations, generally a jar or can of olives that have been opened and then refrigerated should last for about three weeks.  As always check to be sure the olives are safe to eat before enjoying them.

How Long Do Olives Last in the Freezer

To extend the life of your olives and with a little work olives, either packed in oil or brine, can be frozen for up to six months.  This will help to ensure you don’t waste olives and you always have them on hand.

As olives contain a lot of water and you want to avoid the freezer burn that the oil or brine might encourage, it’s best to rinse the olives and then air dry or blot them with a paper towel before storing them in a freezer-friendly container.  Be sure to remove as much air as possible and to leave room in the container for the olives to expand once frozen.

Olives can be removed, thawed, and used in a great many recipes.  These olives are also great chopped up and used in dips such as tapenade.  Their texture may change slightly, but they will be fine to use in your recipes and you will hardly notice the difference.

While olives look like they would be good forever, like most things, they indeed have a shelf life.  Knowing how to store your olives to ensure you use them while they are still fresh will save you money but it will also help to be sure you eat them at their freshest.

How To Tell If Olives Have Gone Bad / How To Know if Olives are Fresh

Olives come packed in either oil or brine.  This liquid helps to keep the olives fresh for as long as possible, but knowing when your olive is no longer fresh is very helpful too.  As expected, they do not last forever.

An odor isn’t good:  If your olives have developed an odor that just seems off or no longer fresh smelling, then the olives should be discarded as they are no longer fresh.

Appearances matter:  Olives can sometimes develop a white substance on top of them.  This is perfectly harmless and can just be skimmed off the top.  That white substance may be off-putting, however.  If that’s the case, you can go ahead and discard your olives.  Anything more than a white substance, though, and they should be discarded.  Mold, for example, would indicate your olives have spoiled.

A different texture is a problem:  You may have to actually bite into your olive to detect this, but if the texture seems different or off then it’s time to throw the olives away and start over.

Color could change:  The color of your olives begins to fade the longer they are stored in the refrigerator.  This may not indicate that your olives need to be thrown away as your olives will still be fine to eat but it is an indication of freshness.

Fresh olives smell, taste, and look fresh.  Anything less than that and it’s worth considering how old the olives really are and whether or not you should throw them away.

How to Store Olives?

Knowing how to store your olives can help you to save money.  Since olives are one of those things you use sparingly it’s also helpful to know how long your olives will be fresh so you can be sure to use them before they need to be thrown away.

Pantry storage until opened:  Olives purchased from the grocery store in either a can or a jar should be stored in the pantry until you’re ready to open them.  Ideally, they will be in a dark, dry, cool place away from heat and light.  This will keep them fresh for as long as possible, which is ideally 18-24 months or until you’re ready to use them.

Refrigerate after opening:  Olives in a can or a jar should be refrigerated after opening.  If they are in a jar, they should be stored in the refrigerator in the same jar and with the liquid or brine already in the jar.  If they came in a can, you can cover the can and refrigerate it or you can transfer the olives and the brine to a food storage container and refrigerate.

Refrigerate deli olives:  Olives purchased at the deli counter at the grocery store should also be refrigerated.  Choose olives that look fresh and add some of the liquid to the to-go container.

Your olives will be ready and waiting for you now that you know how to store them.  Just think of all the things you can make with them or the cocktail you could have just awaiting your olives.

Can You Freeze Olives? How?

If you find yourself with too many olives on hand you may be wondering if you can freeze them.  The answer is yes.  Freezing olives is a great way to preserve them before they expire.

Drain and rinse:  When freezing, excess water or moisture can work against you.  In the case of olives, you will want to drain the brine or oil from your olives and then give the olives a good rinse.

Air dry or pat dry:  After draining your olives you will want to air dry them for a bit and then pat them dry to be sure to remove as much moisture as possible.

Store in a container with room:  Place your dry olives in a freezer-friendly container and leave plenty of room for those olives to expand as they freeze.

Freeze for up to six months:  Olives are good in the freezer for up to six months

Now that you know how to freeze olives you should be able to keep fresh olives on hand all of the time.  There is a little extra work involved in freezing them, but it’s also worthwhile.

How to Thaw Olives?

Thaw in the refrigerator:  Olives that have been frozen should be thawed in the refrigerator.  You can easily move the container from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight and the olives should be good to go the next day.

Texture may change:  The texture of the thawed olives may be slightly different, but they are totally fine to eat.  These olives may be best cut up in your favorite recipe, rather than enjoyed as an appetizer, but they will be fresh and ready to eat.

Frequently Asked Questions About Olive’s Shelf Life

Knowing how to keep your olives fresh for as long as possible is a great way to be sure you use the things you buy before they need to be thrown away.  Here are some questions and answers on the freshness of olives:

If my jar of olives has puckered is it still good?  If the jar has puckered or the lid has popped in any way, then the olives are no longer good and should be thrown away.  Ideally, the jar should look perfectly fine and there shouldn’t be any signs of a problem.

Is the white scum on top of my olives safe to eat?  The white scum that could develop on top of your olives should be removed, but then the olives are perfectly safe to eat.  You can discard the olives if you would prefer not to eat them, but they won’t make you sick if you go ahead and eat them.

Wrap Up

Fresh olives, either from a jar, can or the deli counter at your grocery store can be a delicious addition to many recipes and salads.   Tell us your favorite ways to use your olives while they are still fresh in the comments below.

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