How To Tell If Olives Have Gone Bad

Decorating every grazing board and aperitif menu, olives are quite popular, to say the least. A great snacking companion or the perfect briny bite to add depth to pasta sauces, salads or braised meats, olives are super versatile in the kitchen. However, if you've been holding on to a jar for a while, it's fair to wonder whether or not they've gone bad.

While they are usually quite bitter before being cured and preserved in salt or brine, their flavor can vary vastly depending on which variety you buy, ranging from sweet to salty, nutty to herbaceous, and mild to pungent. Bon App├ętit reports that heat can even change their flavor profile, leading to a more bitter aftertaste.

As with most ingredients, olives are best stored in a cool area like the fridge, especially once they've been opened. Glad also recommends keeping olives fully submerged in their brine or oil to ensure maximum quality. But how can you tell if your olives have exceeded their prime?

Sniff and see

Green, black or purple, Food Safety reports that olives should be consumed within 18 months if they're canned or packaged, and roughly within 2 weeks once opened or if purchased fresh. However, these time frames may vary depending on storage and handling. In that case, you should consider a few things.

One of the key ways to tell if your olives have gone bad is by evaluating their scent. According to Does It Go Bad?, if the packing liquid (oil or brine) smells putrid or the olives themselves have a funky aroma, then it's wise to discard them.

Alternatively, appearance also matters. While olives won't change color if they've spoiled, you should keep an eye out for mold. Unless olives have gone fuzzy, Good Housekeeping explains that if your container of olives develops a layer of white mold, simply scoop it off, add a splash of vinegar and eat as you normally would. Lastly, if you've taken a bite and discovered some flavors that are slightly off, it's best to toss them and pick up some new ones during your next market run!