Canned olives are one of my go-to convenience foods. I love having jars and cans of olives on hand to quickly add to recipes, charcuterie boards, martinis, and anytime I need an easy appetizer or snack. But sometimes I end up with extras that I can’t use up in time before they go bad. I used to feel like I had to throw away any leftovers, but I discovered a simple trick to extend the shelf life of canned olives – freezing them!
Freezing lets you save unused canned olives to enjoy for up to a year later. By storing them in the freezer, you stop the aging process so they maintain quality and flavor. In this article, I’ll go over everything you need to know about freezing both unopened and opened canned olives to reduce food waste in your kitchen.
Can You Freeze Unopened Canned Olives?
Yes, freezing unopened cans or jars of olives is completely fine and requires no additional preparation. The sealed can protects the olives from exposure to air, moisture, and freezer burn.
Unopened canned olives can be frozen as is directly in the can. Just make sure to leave some headspace at the top of the can in case liquids expand during freezing. Place the unopened cans in airtight freezer bags or wrap tightly with plastic wrap before putting in the freezer.
Unopened olives in the can will keep for up to 1 year frozen while maintaining freshness and flavor. The freezer puts the olives in stasis by halting bacteria growth and other degradation processes. Freezing gives you significantly more shelf life compared to keeping canned olives in the pantry.
Can You Freeze Opened Canned Olives?
Yes, you can also freeze olives from a previously opened can or jar. However, there are a few additional steps you need to take after opening the container.
Once air hits the olives, the clock starts ticking faster for them to go bad. Exposure to oxygen and microbes reduces how long they will last. But you can still buy yourself more time by freezing opened canned olives properly.
Here is how to freeze and store opened canned olives:
- Drain any excess brine from the olives and pat them completely dry with paper towels. Remove as much moisture as possible.
- Place the dried olives in an airtight freezer bag, squeezing out all the air. You can also use rigid freezer-safe containers.
- Pop the tightly sealed bag or container in the freezer.
Opened canned olives will stay good for 3-4 months in the freezer, compared to 1 week at most in the fridge. The airtight environment prevents freezer burn or absorbing off-flavors.
Should You Rinse Canned Olives Before Freezing?
Some people like to briefly rinse canned olives under cool water before freezing. This can remove some excess salty brine if you want to reduce the sodium content.
However, rinsing also washes away some of the characteristic olive flavor that seeps into the olives while soaking in the brine. So you lose a little bit of that flavor nuance.
Whether or not to rinse canned olives before freezing is a personal preference. Neither way is right or wrong. Just be sure to pat the olives very thoroughly dry if you do rinse them before freezing. Any excess moisture left on them will turn icy in the freezer.
How to Thaw Frozen Olives from Canned or Jarred
When you’re ready to eat your frozen olives, thawing them is simple. Here are a few easy methods:
- For a slow thaw, place the sealed freezer bag of olives in the refrigerator. Leave overnight or for up to 24 hours for the olives to defrost gradually.
- For a quicker thaw, put the frozen olives in a bowl and cover with cold water. Swap out the water every 30 minutes until thawed.
- Check if your microwave has a “defrost” function. If so, you can thaw on defrost mode, stopping periodically to drain liquid.
- Avoid leaving frozen olives to thaw on the counter for more than 2 hours. This risks bacteria growth.
Thaw frozen canned olives gently in the fridge or cool water method for best results. Microwaving can make the texture less pleasant in some cases.
Storage and Use of Thawed Canned Olives
Once thawed, here are some tips for storing and enjoying your olives:
- Place thawed olives in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- Use thawed olives in all the same ways as fresh – in tapenades, salads, pizzas, pastas, drinks, charcuterie, etc.
- The texture may be slightly less firm than unfrozen but the flavor will be preserved.
- If not using within a week, transfer any leftover thawed olives back into the freezer.
Enjoy thawed canned olives within a week for best quality and flavor. Refreeze any unused portions.
Freezing gives canned olives significantly extended shelf life compared to keeping them in the pantry or fridge. For minimal waste, freeze any unopened cans as they’ll keep for up to 1 year frozen.
If you’ve opened a can but have some olives left over, you can also freeze the leftovers for 3-4 months. Just be sure to thoroughly dry the olives and seal them airtight before freezing.
With these simple tricks, you can feel good about always having olives ready for recipes, parties, tapas, and other uses! Freeze your extras to save money and reduce food waste. Thaw in the fridge or cool water when ready to enjoy their flavor again.
Hi, I’m Ben Holland. I love cooking, traveling, and spending time with my family! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes, travel tips, and stories about my adventures with my wife and kids.