Do Olives Go Bad?


Do Olives Go Bad

Olives are small fruits traditionally grown in the Mediterranean. Now, they’re grown all over the world and consumed in various ways – California produces some high-quality olives, too.

The most popular way to use olives is on a pizza and in the world-famous cocktail – a martini. A martini is not a martini if it doesn’t have two olives inside!

Since olives are mostly imported, they’re packaged in glass jars filled with brine. Today, a few brands of olives were on sale.

You started thinking about stocking up on olives – they’re a must-have for every party. There is the age-long problem, though – do olives go bad?

If they do, you might not have enough time to finish the jar in time. So, what is the shelf life of olives? Read our article to find out!


Why Are Olives Always Soaked In Some Liquid?

Let’s be honest – did you ever see fresh olives anywhere? Nope? That’s right. You can buy them in brine or there are even dried olives available on the market.

Olives aren’t very tasty fresh –  they are too bitter. These small fruits are cured (soaked in brine), so they can acquire a more pleasant taste.

Also, since olives are usually grown far away (California or somewhere in Europe or Africa) they would become rotten long before they ever made it to your supermarket. So, brine keeps the olives safe!

There are three ways to cure olives:

Water curingOlives are submerged in water for a few weeks – they remain slightly bitter
Brine curingOlives are submerged in brine – a concentrated salt solution for a few months, the taste is changed a lot
Lye curingOlives are submerged in a strong alkali solution containing sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, this is the most complex way to cure olives

Ever wondered does tahini go bad? Read our article to find out if it does!


Do Olives Go Bad?

Olives are a nutritious superfood. They can be used for making sauces and various meals. But if you want to stock up on olives, you must know the answer to the question: do olives go bad?

Unfortunately, olives can go bad. Like all fruit and vegetables, they don’t last forever – there’s simply a time when they expire and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Thankfully, because olives are cured before they’re packed and shipped off, they have a rather long shelf life. The brine prevents the olives from spoiling too soon. In this case, the salt found in the brine acts as a preservative.

The olives are not fresh one day and go off the next. They degrade in quality first, so you will have no problem spotting the odd jar of olives.

To make sure your olives don’t go bad before their time, follow the instructions on the box and the guidelines below. This way, you will have no unpleasant surprises with your jar of olives!

Let’s check out the nutritional value of 3.5 ounces of pickled olives:

Nutritional factValueDaily value in %*
Calories1457%
Total Carbohydrate3.8g1%
Dietary Fiber3.3g13%
Sugars0.5g/
Total Fat15.3g24%
Saturated fat2g10%
Vitamin A393IU8%
Vitamin E3.8mg19%
Calcium52mg5%
Sodium1556mg65%
*based on a 2.000 calorie diet

Does tahini go bad? Read our article to find out!


The Shelf Life Of Olives

When you’re out shopping, you should always keep in mind the shelf life of the items you want to buy. You don’t want to buy the amount of food you couldn’t possibly finish before the expiration date.

The same story is with olives. But, what is their shelf life?

Well, there is not much difference in shelf life between different types of olives. They have the same shelf life, more or less. What affects the shelf life is the packaging they come in.

First, if you buy olives without the brine or oil, they have the shortest life span. Once you buy it, you have around three to five days to finish it, provided it’s kept in the refrigerator.

For jars or cans of olives (submerged in brine), the rule is a little different. They have a very long life span – one to two years post-production. They have a best-by date printed on the packaging.

A best-by date is a manufacturer’s guarantee that the food in question will retain the same quality up to the date printed on the label. It doesn’t mean that the food will go bad afterward, but the quality might be compromised.

That being said, the olives will stay safe to eat after the best-by date. They will stay safe for around three more months, provided they’re kept in pristine storage. 

Once you open the jar, make sure to finish the jar in no more than three weeks. Some manufacturers say a week, some even a year – but the best rule of thumb is three weeks, give or take a few days.

For olives submerged in oil, the shelf life is a lot shorter. They retain the best quality for somewhere between two weeks up to a month. This rule applies to unopened and opened packages of olives.


How To Store Olives

Lpc Do Olives Go Bad

Storage is key when it comes to getting the most out of your food items. Proper storage ensures that the food in question doesn’t go bad before its time. This saves you money as a plus because you will not be forced to throw out food that could have been eaten.

Storing olives is fairly easy. For jars of pickled olives, a place at room temperature is perfectly safe. Think – pantry and even kitchen cabinets, if you’re low on pantry space.

Just make sure to pick a place away from the window or sources of heat like a radiator or an air vent. Exposure to light and heat can affect the quality of your olives and make them spoil long before their time.

Do note that not all jars are the same. For example, if the jar of olives is filled with a brine of any kind – they’re safe at room temperature. On the other hand, if the jar is filled with oil, it can stay at room temperature – but the best place in the fridge, even if it’s unopened.

Once you open the jar, the ideal place is placing it in the refrigerator. You will find it stays fresh for quite a while there – some manufacturers say even a full year.

And if you open a can of olives or plastic packaging, make sure to transfer the leftover olives into a sealable container. Make sure to transfer the brine or the oil as well.

Extra tip: if you accidentally threw out the brine – worry not, you can make your own! Add one teaspoon of salt for every cup of water you need and watch the magic happen. This brine is not very strong, but it will hold your olives safe for three to four more weeks.


How To Check The State Of Your Olives

So, you’ve found a jar or can of olives in the pantry and you’re not quite sure about the state of it. It might be best to check it out first – read this part carefully to learn how to do that.

First, examine the packaging. If you can see that the jar’s lid is swollen, or that the container is leaky or worse, rusty – discard it. The content is spoiled and no longer safe for human consumption.

The next step is opening the container. If you can see mold or mildew, discolorations on the fruit, or anything unusual, the olives have spoiled.

If they look fine, do a little sniff test. If it smells disgusting or just unpleasant, discard the jar – it’s better to be safe than sorry!

However, if the jar passed the tests with flying colors, it’s perfectly safe to eat!


Do Olives Go Bad? – Conclusion

To conclude, olives can go bad – the brine is not foolproof. It will preserve the olives for some time, but it doesn’t do magic.

How long are olives good for? If they’re packed in a tin can or a glass jar, they will last somewhere between a year and two years.

If you buy them without the brine, they are good for less than a week – so be careful when you’re buying them this way. If you cannot finish that amount in up to five days, avoid buying so much!

Storing the olives is pretty easy, though. Jars and cans of olives with brine are safe at room temperature. Any other type is better off in the fridge – they will retain their freshness longer in a cold environment!

If you stored the jars for quite some time, take some time to examine the olives before you eat them. Using spoiled olives will make the food spoiled, as well. So, check them out first – and if they’re good – bon appetit!

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