Long Term Storage of Oils and Fats


After doing a lot of research on the shelf life of cooking oils, I have reached the following conclusion based on the best evidence that I can find.  Most cooking oils have a shelf life of from one to two years before turning rancid.  There is lot of talk about longer shelf life for various oils such as coconut oil.   But I have not been able to find anything but antidotal evidence to confirm this.  It is my understanding that BYU is currently running test to determine the shelf life of various oils.  When this is complete, I will get a copy and post it.

With oils and fats, be sure to watch the expiration dates, and rotate them as needed.  Extra virgin olive oil is reputed to have a slightly longer shelf life due because it is the first squeezing and therefore purer.

Rancid fats need to be avoided, they have been suspected of causing increases in arteriosclerosis, heart disease and cancer.  Whenever possible, keep oil away from light and oxygen and store in a refrigerator or cool place.

There are a few oils or fats that can be stored for longer periods one is Red Feather Butter.

The following statement is from their website.  “Red Feather has no Expiration Date written in stone, because the shelf life depends largely on the storage conditions (temperature, humidity, altitude, sunlight/shade, etc.). We do guarantee the shelf life for two years however, the actual shelf life of the butter will ultimately be determined by the storage conditions (temperature being the main factor) and the seal on the can remaining intact and therefore protecting the butter from the introduction of oxygen”.


Ghee or clarified butter is a butter product that has had the solid milk particles and water removed.  It can be purchased in cans and seems to have a fairly long shelf life.  In India it is sometimes stored in the open (not in cans or refrigerated) for several months to a years.  It is easy to make from butter and in the open, it stores much longer than butter.  The best buys on canned Ghee are usually found in East Indian stores.  We will post a recipe on how to make it in a few days.

Dehydrated butter is a good solution for long-term storage.  Stored under good conditions it can last many years.

Wijsman Butter, they claim an indefinate storage life

Dehydrated shortening powder is another choice for long-term storage.  It can be kept for many years.  While it is a type of oil that I would not use under normal conditions in an emergency in which you were short of oil, I think it would be fine.

Crisco, the manufacture says a two-year shelf life.  Lard, Is still a question mark, I am trying to get more data on its storage life.  I will post more information as I receive it.




8 thoughts on “Long Term Storage of Oils and Fats”

  1. Matt in Oklahoma

    So I ask myself, what did the old timers do? Animal Fat
    Domesticated hogs (wild hog has very little fat) and Bear are the only 2 things I know of with any amount of usable fat, maybe penned up cattle. There is fat content in stuff like milk, plants etc that can keep you going but the Fat to be used for cooking is harder to obtain. Oils, whew that would be a hard one without alot of work and product. We don’t have coconuts, olives and I have no idea how to get it out of corn.
    I guess this is where a guy could make a good trade living if he was able to ship this stuff in as well as spices just like the days of old.

  2. I am always amazed when trying to find a product with a long shelf life that it is mentioned it will last longer in the refrigerator or freezer. I am trying to find foods that avoid those appliances if and when the utilities are gone.
    The biggest problem with rancid grease is the smell and taste. So therefore it will make your fried tater’s taste whimmey. Never heard of to many people who use rancid grease enough to cause health problems. Now the fact that the foods are fried could be the culprit.
    I do remember my mother cutting up a potato and cooking it in old grease to freshen it up. It must have worked.
    I have had a open can of crisco in the cupboard for quite some years I am going to push it here and say 5. It is not in an ideal enviornment. It is just now getting that smell to it, so will probably pitch it. So unless the shortening has been opened and in a place it melted and then solidfied again and again feel an unopened can could last as long.
    I think the canned butter would last a long time. Seems it is in a total tin can. Sure makes a difference, in some of the products you get now are in cardboard cans with paper seals under the plastic reuseable lid.
    All in all I think your nose will be the detector of rancid grease and oils. But do wish they had better shelf lives.

  3. Lynda Eggimann

    NOTES on fats.. in food storage people have to remember that this could be for a lifestyle much different than we have today. When things are good we try to get fat OUT of our diets, when things are bad, we have to get fats INTO our diets. It’s just a different way to think about those oils.
    More thoughts… DON’T THROW RANCID OIL AWAY … nope.. you can still burn it in a lantern. yeahhh!
    Coconut butter might last longer.. I’ve had some much longer. Maybe because it’s solid.. (I’ll check on that one)
    I’d be careful of any OIL with longer life.. as it may indicate an oil that isn’t really oil.. in an emergency you need the real stuff.

  4. Most seeds contain significant amounts of oil and an oil press should be an integral part of any prepper’s tool supply.

    go check out oil prices at the grocery store, the cheaper the oil (like corn and canola) the more abundant the seed from which it is derived. Corn can be stored for a very, very long time. You might find this article of interest (and a stepping stone for research):


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