Do Olives Go Bad? 4 Signs To Spot Bad Olives

Who doesn’t love some olives on their pizzas or salads?

Naturally, it becomes a pleasant surprise every time I pull out a jar of olives from kitchen cabinet.

But I use them only on occasions and I often ask myselft – do olives go bad ?

Let’s find out!

Yes, olives will go bad if not stored properly. An unopened jar of olives is good for up to 3 to 4 years from its production date. But once opened, you are looking at 1 to 2 weeks before they start losing their quality.

How Long Do Olives Last?

The shelf life of olives depends on the variety of olives you buy and how you store them. Follow the best storage practices, and you should be able to enjoy them for years to come. 

1. Unopened Jar of Olives

It depends on the storage condition of the fruit (and yes, olives are fruits). An unopened jar of olives stored in brine will last for 3 to 6 months past the expiry date. That is a total of about 4 years. If stored without brine, you are looking at 1 to 2 months past the expiry date. The same holds for stuffed olives. 

olive jar

2. Opened Jar of Olives

What if you have opened your jar of olives dipped in brine in the refrigerator? Well, you can enjoy them for 3 weeks to about a year. The duration here depends on the brand you buy. Unbrined olives in the refrigerator will not last more than 2 to 3 days. For refrigerated stuffed olives, the shelf life is about 1 to 2 weeks. If you refrigerate homemade stuffed olives, 3 to 5 days is the limit.

How to Store Olives?

How you should store olives depends on which variety you buy. It will change based on whether the olives are brined or unbrined, opened or unopened jars, and more such preconditions.

different varieties of olives

1. Unopened Jar of Olives

The best practices for storing unopened jars are simple. An unopened jar of olives can be kept in the kitchen or the pantry. The area must be cool and dry, and the container must not sit in the sunlight. 

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2. Opened Jar of Olives

As soon as you open the jar or can, it is time to toss it into the fridge. Do not forget to cover it tightly. The problem arises with a can that, unlike jars or bottles, cannot be sealed. I recommend transferring the olives from the can to an airtight container. You can also use plastic wrap and tie it up with a rubber band.

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Remember, never let go of the brine. If you have accidentally lost some brine, add 0.5 teaspoons of salt to every cup of water. However, homemade brine is not nearly as strong as store-bought ones. So, do not store them for more than a few weeks.

Olives dipped in coconut oil will be okay at room temperature, but they are better off refrigerated. I suggest tossing it into the refrigerator and sealing it well every time you use it.

Do Oilves Go Bad? How to Tell if Olives Are Rotten?

We wouldn’t want to consume rotten olives on a pizza. But how do you know if they have gone bad? There are a few tell-tale signs for identifying if they are rotten. Make sure you look for these signs before tossing one into your mouth. Most of all, trust your senses.

1. Check While Buying

For unopened jars, check if they are sealed well. If the lid is round instead of flat or has a tiny dome, know that it is spoiled. Dome-shaped lids mean the jar has not been sealed well. It has let bacteria in and ruined the fruits inside. 

Always look for a pop when you open a new jar of olives. If the pop is missing, it is best not to consume it. Also, look for leaked, dented, or oxidized signs of the jar. If you find any such sign, the olives are probably no good.

2. Look for Mold

If olives have gone bad, you will notice a thin layer of white mold. Moldy fruits or vegetables are always a terrible idea. However, if your brined olives exhibit some white spots, they should be consumable. The same does not hold for unbrined ones. The white spots are a part of the fermentation process and can be consumed once removed.

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3. Do a Sniff Test

If your olives smell a tad bit rancid, toss them into the bin right away. Rotten ones have a pungent smell, which should be your cue to avoid consuming them. With black olives, any white fuzz on them or any discoloration is bad news.

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4. Conduct a Taste Test

Even if the look and smell are fine, taste a bit to know if they are okay. If they taste bad, there is no reason to keep them in the house. 

Why Should You Avoid Rotten Olives?

fresh olives

Recently consumed some bad olives? Expect some food poisoning symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, or stomach ache. They will probably dissipate soon, so don’t worry too much. Drink tons of water to replace the lost fluid. You can also use activated charcoal to rid your body of the poison.

Consume some electrolyte-rich drinks like some delicious coconut water. As long as you are hydrated well, you will have the energy needed to recover. Visit the nearest hospital if the symptoms worsen.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. How long do olives last in the fridge?

Ans. Unopened brined olives will last for 3 to 6 months past the expiry date, so about 4 years in total. For unbrined olives, 1 or 2 months past expiry is the most. 

Opened-brined olives will last about 3 weeks to a year before going bad. You can consume unbrined ones for 2 to 3 days at most.

Q2. Is it okay to eat expired olives?

Ans. You can consume an unopened jar of expired brined olives for 3 to 6 months past its expiry. With unbrined jars, you can expect 1 to 2 months past expiry. For opened jars, it is best not to consume them past the expiry date. You might experience food poisoning symptoms like diarrhea, stomach ache, and nausea. I suggest avoiding expired olives.

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Q3. How long do fresh olives last once opened?

Ans. Once opened, fresh-brined olives will last for about 3 weeks. For unbrined ones, you are looking at 2 to 3 days at most. If you are buying fresh ones from the market, make sure you store them in the refrigerator. Keep them sealed well.

Q4. Can olives go bad in a jar?

Ans. Olives in jars have more of a chance to outlast those in cans. But having said that, they will still go bad sooner or later. Make sure you refrigerate them and seal them well after opening them. Olives in a jar will last about 3 weeks in brine and 2 to 3 days without brine. 

After that, you will notice moldy, white patches, an unpleasant odor, and a rancid taste like bad lemon. These are tell-tale signs that they have gone bad.

Q5. How can you tell if olives are bad?

Ans. You will know olives are bad if you notice white moldy bits growing on them. For black olives, any sign of discoloration is bad news. Do a taste test. If they taste rancid, toss them into the bin. Rotten olives also emit an unpleasant smell like rotten oranges

For unopened jars, look for a dome-like shape or rounded structure of the lid. This suggests that the seal was not tight enough and bacteria had entered the jar. You should hear a pop every time you unseal a new bottle of olives. Without the pop, it is best thrown away.

The Bottom Line

Olives are highly versatile and a delicious addition to any recipe. They can be used to add that tangy flavour to your tuna sandwich as long as you store them in the best ways. Always refrigerate opened jars of olives. Transfer the ones in cans into airtight containers. Look for fresh ones from the shelves. 

You can do a lot with olives, so do not pass up on an opportunity to experiment. But the moment you notice white patches, discoloration, or a rancid taste or odor, toss them away immediately. Nothing is more important than your health. 

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Melissa Baker

Melissa Baker

I am a food lover and the founder of FoodQueries. I have years of experience when it comes to food. I have been cooking since childhood and I know a thing or two about storing, cooking and freezing food in the right way.