Do Olives Expire? How Long Does It Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on December 18th, 2022

Have you ever gone to a Greek or Spanish olive market? The aromas, the flavors, the textures… It’s difficult to realize that olives exist in various sizes, colors, styles, and flavors.

However, because most of us cannot afford to travel to Greece to buy fresh olives, we must settle for canned or jarred olives. So, what happens to olives that you buy in a jar or a can when you open them? Look at every possible response to the topic, “Do olives go bad?”

green round fruits on stainless steel bowl

Do Olives Expire?

The quick explanation is that olives may spoil. That said, if they were in good shape when you got them and have been carefully preserved subsequently, it normally takes a long time for that to happen.

Here’s all you need to know about determining the freshness of those wonderful table olives you’ve been keeping on hand.

What Exactly Are Olives?

Olives are frequently misidentified as vegetables since they are mixed with other greens and vegetables. After all, they’re widely consumed and may be found in salads, pasta dishes, and even pizzas. They are, however, little, oval fruits. They have a hard, inedible stone in the center.

They are available in two colors: black and green. Green denotes immature fruit, whereas black denotes completely ripe fruit.

Olives are often sold in jars or cans in grocery shops, supermarkets, and specialty stores. Depending on where they were produced, these bottles may be labeled as Spanish or Greek olives.

Aside from eating them cured and marinated, they may also be converted into olive oil, one of the most extensively eaten and utilized oils today.

This Mediterranean delicacy is not normally eaten fresh since it contains a bitter chemical called oleuropein. The bitterness is removed by soaking and marinating the fruits in various herbs, spices, and even oil, which not only preserves the taste but also keeps the taste bright.

What Is the Shelf Life of Olives?

Because no two olives are the same, there is no simple answer to the issue of how long they can be stored. Green olives have a shorter shelf life than black, mature olives.

The length is also affected by the quality of brine and the fermentation of salty water. The length of time olives survives before spoiling is also affected by whether stored in the refrigerator or the pantry.

Surprisingly, some studies suggest preserving olives in a low-pH brine is more crucial than keeping them cold.

Olives (black/ green) (whole/ pitted/ sliced)PantryRefrigerator
Olives (with brine liquid or oil) (unopened)Best by date + 3 to 6 months
Olives (with brine liquid or oil) (opened)1 to 3 weeks; up to 6 and 12 months for specific brands
Olives to-go (sliced, without liquid) (opened)Best by date + 1 to 2 months
Olives to-go (sliced, without liquid) (unopened)2 to 3 days
Olives (from an olive bar)1 to 2 weeks
Stuffed olives (unopened)Best by date + 1 to 2 months
Stuffed olives (opened)1 to 2 weeks
Homemade stuffed olives3 to 5 days

Other sources with different information may be found. Olive makers, in particular, vary on how long olives may keep fresh after being opened in a jar or container.

The general guideline is to read and follow the label on the can or jar. The explanation for the disparity in opinions is most likely due to the various techniques for olive conservation and the preservatives employed to preserve freshness.

Ripe olives are frequently kept and marketed in olive oil, which is an effective medium for conservation since it prevents the exposure of olives to air, which is required for the development of bacteria. Once opened, olives in oil have a similar shelf life to those kept in brine.

How Long Will Olives Last in a Jar?

Olives in brine in a jar keep for 3 to 5 months on the counter, 6 to 8 months in the fridge, and 10 to 18 months in the freezer before going bad if you keep them properly in the refrigerator, freezer, and on the counter.

Olives that have not been soaked in brine (stored dried) in a jar endure 2 to 3 weeks on the counter, 1 to 3 months in the fridge, and 6 to 8 months in the freezer before going bad if you keep them properly in the refrigerator, freezer, and on the counter.

Once the olive has been put in a jar, it should be kept in the freezer, either immersed or not, for longer storage.

How Long Do Olives Stay Fresh in Water?

Olives may be stored in water for 5 to 7 days before becoming bad if you keep them in the proper water conditions.

If you aren’t going to use the olive right away, don’t put it in water.

This is because olives do not have a good preservative.

Instead, keep it in brine for better and longer-lasting storage.

How Long Can Olives Be Stored at Room Temperature?

Olives may be stored at room temperature for 4 to 6 months if soaked in brine and kept away from heat and direct sunshine if you keep them properly stored on the counter in their normal conditions.

Olives are soaked in brine to keep their greatest quality on the counter.

Keep away from direct sunlight.

How Long Can Olives Be Stored Without Brine?

Olives without brine endure 3 to 5 days on the counter before going bad, 3 to 4 months in the fridge before going bad, and at least 5 months in the freezer before going bad.

Always keep your olives in brine to preserve them for future use.

How Long Do Olives Keep in the Refrigerator?

Once opened, olives packaged in oil or brine should be kept in the refrigerator. If the olives were in a jar, they could be kept in the same jar with the top securely closed. Keep the brine covering the olives to ensure they stay as fresh as possible for as long as possible.

Olives bought in a can should be moved to a food storage container with their brine and refrigerated. As long as the olives are covered, they can stay in the can.

Olives purchased at the grocery store’s deli counter should be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. When purchasing these olives, aim for the freshest olives and put some of the brine or oil in the to-go container.

While manufacturer recommendations vary, a jar or can of olives that have been opened and refrigerated should survive for around three weeks. Before eating the olives, always make sure they’re healthy to consume.

How Long Can Olives Be Kept in the Freezer?

To extend the life of your olives, either packed in oil or brine, olives can be frozen for up to six months. This will guarantee that you don’t waste olives and always have them on hand.

Because olives contain a lot of water and you want to avoid freezer burn caused by the oil or brine, rinse the olives and then air dry or blot them with a paper towel before storing them in a freezer-friendly container.

Remove as much air as possible and allow enough space in the container for the olives to expand once frozen.

Olives may be withdrawn from the freezer, thawed, and used in various dishes. These olives are also delicious cut up and mixed into dips like tapenade. Their texture may vary, but they will still be suitable for your recipes, and you will barely feel the difference.

While olives appear to remain edible indefinitely, they, like other things, have a shelf life. Knowing how to preserve your olives so that you may use them while they are still fresh will save you money and ensure that you enjoy them while they are freshest.

How to Tell If Your Olives Have Turned Bad

The rusty or rounded lid of a can is the first indication that your can or jar of olives is only fit for the rubbish. It signifies that the conditions inside have deteriorated, and the germs are having a field day.

The same is true for leaking can or jar. It indicates that the container or jar is no longer sealed and that bacteria have entered.

The scent is the first thing that hits you when you open a can or container of rotten olives. Rotten olives smell like, well, rotting fruit.

Olives may occasionally have a metallic odor, although this is most likely due to the metal in which they have been stored for an extended period or poorly.

Olives are susceptible to mold infestation in addition to bacteria. If the jar has been opened and has been sitting in the fridge or cupboard for a time and has developed a covering of mold, throw it out. While not all molds release hazardous chemicals, are you willing to take the risk? It’s simply not worth it.

Oil-preserved olives face a particular issue. If the jar or container was stored in a warm location, the oil might have gone rancid, which has an unpleasant odor. It does not inherently imply that olives are poor, but if the oil deteriorates, it is quite probable that the oil is not doing a good job of preserving olives.

If you opened the jar, ate a few olives, and set the rest aside, they must be soaked in brine. If they are not, they will spoil considerably faster since they are not being conserved.

How Can You Know if Your Black Olives Have Gone Bad?

For the most part, black olives act like any other olive. If you purchase a jar of the black type, it will also include an expiration date. You should try to adhere to this expiration date as closely as possible.

The same restrictions apply to storage as well. Keep unopened olives in the pantry and then in the fridge once you’ve opened them.

When black olives grow bad, they emit a metallic stench, according to some. They may also have a metallic flavor if their expiration date has gone.

Other red flags that they’re not up to the task? Discoloration, patchiness on the olive skin, a slimy or oily feel, and—the most prominent sign—a covering of white fluff are all red flags.

Is It Possible for Olives to Have White Things on Them?

This is particularly common with black olives. They occasionally acquire a white material on them, usually after opening the jar or container. It’s also not the white fuzz mentioned above. What exactly is it?

This material is referred to as yeast spots. Some fungi and bacteria can emerge to generate these marks depending on the olive growing and bringing procedure. Yeast spots aren’t always an indication that the olives are poor. You should be able to wash the marks away, and your olives should be fine.

Of course, you want to be cautious. Before putting your olives in your mouth or adding them to a meal you cooked, give them a good whiff. Again, err on caution if things don’t smell quite right. If they smell good, go ahead and try one. You should be OK if the taste isn’t too strong.

What Happens If You Eat Olives After They Have Passed Their Expiration Date?

Maybe the olives didn’t smell that horrible to you, so you ate a couple. They didn’t taste particularly strange, but your stomach hurt for a few hours afterward. What will happen next?

The effects of ingesting food that has beyond its expiry date might vary. With olives, you may merely get a stomachache for a few hours. This may be accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting. Remember that you could get food poisoning if the olives get moldy.

We would recommend resting up for the day after eating the expired olives. If your symptoms intensify or become serious immediately, make an appointment with your doctor.

The Dangers of Eating Expired Olives

You must adore olives to consume them after their expiry date. They may have survived if they were in the original unopened jar or can and stored in a cold, dark area.

But if you don’t, you risk getting an upset stomach and feeling like you’ve had food poisoning. In the worst-case scenario, if your olives are extremely nasty or you ate too many of them, you may develop serious diarrhea or vomiting and get dehydrated. Botulism can also be contracted through badly prepared or kept olives.

Can Olives Be Frozen?

Olives are fruits and can be frozen in the same way that any other fresh fruit may. Wash them well and keep them in a tightly sealed container. Leave a half-inch gap at the top if they grow throughout the freezing process.

It is a good idea to brine the olives before freezing them to remove the slightly harsh flavor of the olives. To make the brine, combine a gallon of water and four ounces of salt. Boil the olives for about 15 minutes in the brine, then rinse with cool water and store in an airtight container before freezing.

Bringing substantially enhances the texture of olives, which can become shriveled and soft when frozen due to dehydration.

Before boiling the olives in the brine, experienced cooks recommend combining them with your preferred spices.

Preserved olives from a can or jar can also be frozen. Because freezing might cause them to lose their texture, one technique is to lay them in muffin pans and cover them with water before freezing the entire tray. Once frozen, store your “olive muffins” in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.

Can You Extend the Shelf Life of Olives?

You can’t get enough olives and wish you could store them for longer. Can you do it? Indeed, there are a few strategies you may use to increase the shelf life of your olives.

There are no guarantees, so always use common sense. If your olives seem or smell rotten, it’s best to be safe and replace them with new ones.

After each use, tightly close the jar

Putting a stronghold on the jar may seem inconvenient after you’ve finished your olives, but it’s vital. The airtight seal you make protects the olives’ quality. By simply lightly screwing the jar cover back on or, worse, not doing it at all, you risk your olives dying sooner.

Also, if your jar can no longer be kept securely, you may easily transfer the olives to another airtight container (these are my favorite).

Maintain the Olives in Their Liquid

Regardless of where you move your olives, make sure you move their juice with them. The olives require this liquid to keep fresh, whether it’s their oil or brine. Not just a smidgeon of liquid will suffice; all olives must be completely submerged. If the olives are not soaked, they will decay faster.

Keep Pantry Temperature Consistent

What if you haven’t yet put your olive jar in the fridge? Perhaps you’re storing them unopened in your pantry for the time being. That’s all right. However, keep an eye on the temperature. Olives do best in a pantry that is kept at a temperature of no more than 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Store in Airtight Containers Whenever Possible

If you bought olives in quantity at the grocery store, chances are you got a simple plastic container to put them in. While they are wonderful for returning home quickly, they tend to drain air out of the lid and allow air in.

These Snapware containers from Pyrex are the greatest airtight containers I’ve ever used for just about anything.

There are less expensive variants, as well as ones with plastic bowls. Still, nothing surpasses the glass, which allows for microwaving, easy cleaning, and oven-safe nature (without the cover) and keeps items fresher for longer.

My snaps and seal on the lid have lasted for years with no indications of deterioration, so it is worth considering.

Olive Storage Suggestions

  • Unopened cans or jars of olives should be stored in a cold, dark area like your pantry. It varies depending on the manufacturer and their preservation method, but olives in brine can be stored unopened for several years. Olives in oil have a shelf life of only a few months. Olives in brine may be stored in the jar for a few months after opening, while those in oil should be used within a couple of weeks.
  • Once the jar is open, reseal the leftovers tightly, ensuring that all the olives are still submerged in their liquid. Most olive producers recommend storing the olives in the fridge once the container is opened. Depending on the quality of their preservation, they may be stored outside of the refrigerator if the temperature is less than 68°F or 20°C.
  • If you opened a can of olives and did not eat them all, you must decant them in a tightly sealed glass container. To be preserved, they must once again be submerged in their liquid. It applies to both brined and oil-preserved olives. It is strongly advised to keep them in the refrigerator.
  • Many individuals are enticed to undertake olive preservation in areas where fresh olives are grown. Fresh olives cannot be consumed because they are too bitter. They must go through the preservation procedure, which makes them less bitter and keeps them fresher for longer.

While preserving olives appears simple, it is critical to follow guidelines about the brine level and sanitation level throughout the same process.

The method is frequently the source of dangerous germs. The bacteria can be killed if the brine is powerful enough. Otherwise, you risk having a major stomach upset.

  • Black, mature olives are frequently preserved in oil, but they must first be made less bitter in saline water.
  • Greeks have been preserving olives for thousands of years and have devised several novel preservation methods. They handle Kalamata olives in various ways, including soaking them in seawater for months before pickling them in wine vinegar and spices. According to modern Greek olive exporters, olives stored in this manner do not need to be refrigerated after opening the jar.
  • Any technique of keeping olives is only as good as the olives themselves. Whenever possible, get the highest quality olives you can afford. They will not only taste better, but they will also last longer.


Olives are incredibly healthful and are a staple of the Mediterranean diet. They are a terrific accompaniment to many cuisines and make an already delicious martini even better.

While olives can go bad, if they are well-preserved and stored according to the instructions on the can or jar, they can keep fresh for a long time.

It is important to acquire top-quality olives that have been conserved in the best way possible to establish an environment that prevents hazardous germs from affecting the olives.

After opening a jar or container, leave the remaining olives in their original liquid – brine or oil.

While some manufacturers recommend leaving them out of the fridge, it is best to be cautious and store the leftovers in the fridge. So, can olives spoil? Yes, but there is a lot you can do to avoid it.


Editorial Staff

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