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How Long Do Infused Oils Last?

Infusing oils with herbs is a secret weapon for edibles and cuisine. With cannabis, you can quickly make powerful infused oils that you can use in baked goods or place under your tongue.

But there is a secret to making cannaoil that must be done every time. The cannabis must be “activated,” or it will not affect a user. When you smoke cannabis, you use heat to turn it into smoke. This heat activates the marijuana so you can feel it. But cannabis that will be infused into oil must also be treated with heat to be activated. The process is simple but must be done precisely, or you will waste the marijuana. It is called “decarboxylating,” or decarbing. First, you preheat the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit, cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, and break up the cannabis flowers into small, uniform pieces so they will all decarb in the oven. After baking the marijuana in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, you remove it and put a saucepan on the stove with a cup or so of olive oil. Heat the oil gently and put the cannabis in it, simmering for 45 minutes. When the oil is infused with the cannabis, remove it and strain it through a metal screen to remove the plant matter. You now have decarbed and infused oil.

The infused cannaoil can be used in a hundred ways, by baking it into edibles, spreading it on toast, putting it into salad dressing, and any other application that catches your fancy. One of the best ways to use it is the easiest way: place a few drops under your tongue with an eyedropper. It will catch your attention like a big hit. The cannaoil is quite versatile and does not have a strong flavor.

Infused Oils and Cuisine

Many chefs use oils infused with herbs, fruits, and other flavorings. Infused oils combine readily with other flavors in the recipe, creating a deeper flavor. The shelf life for an infused oil depends upon the ingredient in the infusion. Generally speaking, you can count on a shelf life of up to six months, though some will last up to a year. The oil may get a little cloudy if you use fresh ingredients like fruit in the bottle.

There are practices that help preserve infused oil, like protecting it from light and heat. The infused oil can be left at room temperature for a considerable time. However, it will last longer and maintain a higher-quality flavor if stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Keeping the infusion in a dark-colored glass bottle also helps preserve it. The bottles should be clean, dry, and food grade.

Herb-infused oils may start to lose their flavor after a month of storage. If the flavor changes, throw the oil away. Cold infused oils stored in the refrigerator last for about a month. Hot infused oils, like cannaoil, will last three weeks to a month. Infused oils, hot or cold, have a short shelf life due to exposure to oxygen once opened. The flavor of the oil will begin to degrade almost immediately.

If the infused oil smells like crayons or metal, pour some into a spoon and smell it. It may be rancid if it is sour or has an unusual scent. Throw it away.

Infused oil made with olive oil, particularly virgin olive oil, may go bad faster than other oil. It will start to go bad after only a few days if it is not refrigerated.

Dried herbs and spices will last for a while in an infusion, but if they are past their prime, they will not flavor the infusion as much as they might if they are relatively new. The folk method for infusing herbs into oil is to simply put the herbs into a dry, clean container and then completely cover the herbs with oil, adding another inch of oil to the container.

Many olive oils will last 18 to 24 months after they are bottled, but ex-virgin olive oil will only last 12 to 18 months. Be sure to regularly check your olive oil to see if it has gone rancid, particularly the extra virgin oil.

One way to make infused herbal oil that lasts longer than heated oil is to fill your jar to the top with herbs, cover the herbs with olive oil and give the jar a shake. Cover the jar and store it in a cool place in your house. You can infuse the oil for four to six weeks, and when the infused oil reaches the flavor you want, pour the oil into a storage bottle while straining out the herbs with a cloth-lined strainer. Do not infuse your oil for longer than four to six weeks. Oil infused with garlic will only last about 30 days if you keep it in a refrigerator.

You can’t get sick from rancid oil, but it can definitely give you an upset stomach while also being less nutritious due to oxidation that can ruin the good fats and vitamin content.

Many people store their infusions in the refrigerator but find they have to leave the infusion out before cooking with it because it will turn solid, and you can’t pour it out of the bottle. It is not uncommon for cooks to forget to return the infused oil back into the refrigerator, but you risk the oil turning rancid if you leave it out for several days. Always check the infused oil carefully before using to be sure it is still fresh.

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