Does Sesame Oil Need to Be Refrigerated? Storing Tips

Does Sesame Oil Need to Be Refrigerated
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Sesame oil has two varieties: light oil for cooking and dark for garnishing. The taste is particular, so any changes will be more than noticeable. I already knew I had to be careful about the storing, but wasn’t sure in what way — so I just kept it in my garnish cabinet, along with other oils and vinegar I use. But after talking to my friend who keeps it in the fridge, I started wondering, “Does sesame oil need to be refrigerated?”

Sesame oil doesn’t need to stay in the fridge but requires dark and cold places for storage. Dark sesame oil is much more delicate than light, so it should always go to the chiller after opening. However, refrigerating will prolong the life of both light and dark, plus keep their qualities to the highest standard.

The wrong or right way of storing oil can ruin or skyrocket your dish. When using more delicate oils than the standard vegetable oil, you’ll get a lot more relish and a bit more work. Keep reading to catch some storing tips along the way, how to keep your sesame oil high-standard, and find out if it’s spoiled. Plus, I added a short list of magnificent substitutes in case you ran out, so let’s move on!

Does Sesame Oil Need to Be Refrigerated After Opening?

Actually, no, sesame oil doesn’t need to be in the fridge at all, but refrigerating will undoubtedly prolong its shelf life. It’s best to store the opened bottle in the fridge, but it will also last long in a dark and dry place. However, refrigerating will keep the flavor intact for the longest period compared to the other storage methods. 

But be careful; thick and rich oils such as sesame oil tend to dense up when stored at low temperatures. Its consistency changes, and it can become like watery pudding in texture. But that doesn’t change the quality, as it will go back to normal as soon as you heat it or leave it at room temperature.

As you know, there are two types of sesame oil, and you should consider storing toasted sesame oil in the fridge as soon as you open it. This oil is a flavor booster and is always added as a condiment, so the taste should be top-tier. To secure that, put it in the fridge, so its quality is 100% safe.

When it comes to regular, light sesame oil, you won’t even notice the change in taste unless it’s highly spoiled due to its neutrality. Because of that, you don’t need to refrigerate it, but I would definitely keep it either in my pantry or some other suitable place, like my oil cabinet.

How to Store Sesame Oil?

Tips on storing sesame oil are not much different from those for storing similar oils. Sesame oil is very sensitive to heat, light, and air. Yes, it looks like this oil is very needy to start with, but let’s explain it further. The baseline is: don’t keep it on the counter, near the stove top, the window, in unsealed, or in lightly sealed containers.

The optimal storage is a dark, dry, and cool place in heavily sealed containers. It will be good in the pantry, in the kitchen cabinet far from the oven, so it’s not warm in there, or simply boxed on the cold tiles. If you buy larger quantities of sesame oil, consider pouring it into the smaller bottles and storing the rest properly.

Every time you open the oil container, you let the air and air bacteria come in touch with the content inside. That accelerates its spoilage, so the best option is to divide it and use only one bottle. Plus, keep in mind to always seal the bottle tightly and put it away from the stove.

When shopping, choose oil packed in dark glass bottles, preferably green or brown glass. If you don’t have that option, it’s a must to store it in a dark place all the time. You can also buy dark glass bottles and pour them yourself, it’s a bit of work, but it will indeed last longer.

sesame oil in a small bottle pictured next to a wooden spoonful of sesame seeds spilling out

The most obvious tip is to buy little oil canisters in case you don’t use them much daily. It’s more economical to buy larger amounts, of course, but not if you’re going to spill half of it. But if you opt for that anyway, store one part of it in the fridge. If you thought about freezing it, you can!

Freezing will make it very thick, and you’ll need to wait for it to defrost, so skip it if you plan on using it often. On the other hand, if you have loads of sesame oil on your hands, freeze it in smaller plastic bottles or the ice tray. It’s a great and rapid trick, as you can use those ready-to-go cubes daily. 

Also, avoid storing your oil in a place where the temperature changes all the time, from high to low. Moreover, always store it in air-tight containers, which is crucial for prolonging its shelf-life. One more plus thing to know is that you should never mix old oil with a fresh one, whether a few drops or half of the bottle, because it will go bad sooner. The bacteria will infuse it all, so always wash the bottle thoroughly. 

How Long Does Sesame Oil Last?

Sesame oil has a pretty long shelf life, but it loses its quality much faster. It won’t spoil to the point where you can’t use it anymore soon, while the flavors will drift off if not stored properly. Everyone consumes a bit of perished oil without even knowing it, as it gradually loses its qualities, and you can hardly notice that.

Light sesame oil has a neutral taste, and it’s really tricky to determine if it’s not top-notch anymore, while dark sesame oil has more vivid flavors, and spoilage is more prominent. Those usually come in smaller bottles, so it should be good when keeping it in the fridge.

When determining if your oil spoiled, you’ll obviously look for the expiration date. But, even when it’s passed, it doesn’t mean it’s spoiled. It depends on various factors, though, for example: what kind of containers are used, where is it placed in the store, for how long it sits on the shelf…

Try to avoid sesame oil in plastic canisters, and always choose glass, preferably green or brown. Next, look for stores with oils in colder places and away from direct daylight. It may seem like a burden and waste of time, but once you get used to high-standard oil, you’ll never return.

To skip to the point, in optimal conditions, sesame oil should be good six months to two years after the expiration date. If more than two years pass, toss it in the trash, just to be safe. Unopened oil will keep a high standard between 1 to 3 years. Light oil lasts longer than dark, though.

An opened bottle of plain sesame oil is good for nine months if stored in the pantry but for about one year in the fridge. When speaking about toasted oil, it will be good in the pantry for between 4 to 6 months and up to 9 months in the fridge. 

Plus tip: I always choose stores that sell many of these products. This way, I get my hands on a fresher batch, without compromising on taste and quality.


Does Rice Vinegar Need to Be Refrigerated? Storing Tips

How to Know That Sesame Oil Has Gone Bad?

There are three chief indicators that the oil has gone bad: aroma, taste, and texture. Let me explain:

The aroma of light sesame oil is neutral. It smells almost like nothing, while dark sesame oil has a toasty, intense aroma. That means it’s harder to determine if light oil smells are off, but you’ll sense even the tiniest changes in the toasted oil. Spoiled oil will have a sharp, acidy aroma that is heavily repellent, and the taste will also be unsatisfactory.

But be careful, a rancid smell doesn’t mean the whole bottle spoils, as oil tends to collect residue on the neck of the bottle. Try to wipe it off with a dry paper cloth and smell it then. The best thing you can do is wipe it quickly after every use to prevent developing bacteria in that thin layer of oil.   

Quality is much more crucial for dark sesame oil than light when it comes to taste. The reason for that is the fact dark oil is the finishing oil, while you use the light one for cooking and frying. Also, if you notice color changes, you should inspect it. Spoiled light sesame oil will adopt darker golden-brown color, while dark sesame oil will have an even darker, reddish tone.

Sesame oil is rich and denser than regular cooking oil, but its thickness can indicate its spoilage. If you notice any changes, like greenish patches on the bottom or anywhere else for the fact, toss it right away. Keep in mind that storing oil in the fridge will dense it up, but it will have the right consistency when you heat it.

What to Use Instead of Sesame Oil?

Here are some ideas for you to substitute sesame oil in recipes. Keep reading to have an insight into the taste and particularity of the listed oil types below.

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil has a very bland, neutral taste and aroma. Its high smoking point makes it the perfect option for deep frying, and you can definitely replace sesame with sunflower oil. It blends well with any ingredient and will never overpower it, just like light sesame oil. Finishing sesame oil can’t be replaced with it, as it hasn’t even a trace of rich taste.

Canola Oil

This is another neutral oil that blends with everything. Mild-flavored and almost with no aroma at all will replace light sesame oil without a difference, just like a sunflower. It’s suitable for any cooking method, from frying to baking, while the flavor stays unchanged. 

Olive Oil

Olive oil is also a fine substitute but more flavorful than those above. Olive oil is rich in taste and texture, just like sesame oil, but with a fruity base note instead of the nutty that sesame oil provides. They can be replaced with one another, whatsoever, with not much of a difference.

Because of my love for the Mediterranean kitchen, I use it for anything: sauteing, cooking, frying, and baking, without any worries. It will be hard to determine what oil you use unless you have a delicate palate. Most importantly, it won’t ruin the meal even if the taste lingers in your mouth.

You can also replace toasted sesame oil for seasoning enriched extra virgin olive oil, which will elevate any flavor. It will never be as dark or nutty, but with the right spices blended in, it can be an extremely good finishing touch, from soups and pates to salads and cheeses. With the smart choice of additions, you can relive a similar nutty flavor, like smoked chili paprika.

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is also neutral in taste as it has no base notes or aftertaste. Its heating temperature of 420 F makes it suitable for cooking, frying, and everything in between. It isn’t a good substitute for dark sesame oil, though, as it won’t elevate any flavor with the bland taste.

Hazelnut Oil

sesame oil substitutes: canola oil, grapeseed oil, hazelnut oil, and coconut oil pictured next to each other

This nutty oil is a mind-blowing substitute for Asian sesame oil. It has a rich taste, very hazelnut-like, especially if toasted. Toasting elevates and emphasizes its flavors, so you’ll end up with very effective-tasting oil, which is grand for drizzling salads and cream soups.

Untoasted hazelnut oil has a very similar base note as sesame oil, so you’ll hardly tell any difference if exchanged for cooking, frying, or roasting. The colossal difference is the price, as the nut oils are very costly and usually come in small bottles. This is why they are popular as finishing oils, as the facts stand for other nut oil.

Walnut, hazelnut, almond, pecan, macadamia, and pistachio oil can all be a substitution for sesame, but you’ll surely be able to differentiate them when used as finishing oils. They are in vogue and used in desserts or for the final touch.

Coconut oil

You may be surprised by the coconut oil on this list, but it actually has a very similar taste to sesame. When the recipe requires sesame oil for a particular taste, be free to exchange it with coconut. The same mild flavor, with a nut base, will go nicely with oh-so-many ingredients. But be careful, coconut oil has a low smoking point, so it’s not suitable for frying, and the best is to use it in dressings and confections.

Which oil do you use to substitute sesame oil in a salad? Can’t wait to read about your experience in the comments below!

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