Olive Oil Storage & Handling
As a natural product, olive oil does not improve with time (unlike wine), so it is best used within a year. A freshly harvested olive oil could last up to 18 months without losing its sensory characteristics. Store olive oil in an air-tight bottle or container away from light and heat to maintain freshness.
What is the Best Way to Store Olive Oil?
Olive oil should be stored in a tightly sealed container to keep it from rapidly oxidizing. If olive oil is stored in a bottle, always replace the cap on the bottle and keep it tightly sealed. Never put olive oil in a container that does not have a tight cap or some other method of sealing the container.
Olive oil can be kept longer than most other edible oils. Although it can get rancid, olive oil is less likely to become rancid than other oils, especially if it is stored properly.
What are the Best Containers for Olive Oil Storage?
The best containers for olive oil storage are glass (especially tinted glass), ceramic, porcelain, or non-reactive metals such as stainless steel. Do not store olive oil in containers made of reactive metals such as copper or iron. The chemical reaction between the olive oil and the metal will damage the oil and may produce toxins. Olive oil should not be stored in plastic containers because the oil may absorb PVC’s from the plastic.
What is the Best Storage Temperature for Olive Oil?
The ideal temperature for storing olive oil is 57°F, although a normal room temperature of 70ºF works very well if the olive oil is stored in a dark area where the temperature remains fairly constant. Olive oil will solidify at 36ºF, but it will return to a liquid state as soon as the temperature rises. In colder weather, olive oil may turn cloudy, especially if the temperature of the storage area falls below 50ºF.
Where Should Olive Oil be Stored?
It is important to store olive oil in a cool, dark place. A wine cellar is an ideal place for storing olive oil because it is dark and the temperature is cool and constant. Since most of us do not own wine cellars, a kitchen cabinet located away from the stove and away from direct sunlight will work quite well.
Should Olive Oil be Refrigerated Once Opened?
Refrigeration will extend the life of olive oil without harming the oil. The oil will become cloudy and solidify in the refrigerator, but this will not significantly affect the quality or flavor. When the oil is warmed to room temperature it will return to a liquid state and its color will be restored. Refrigeration does not harm most grades of olive oil, but it is not recommended for expensive extra virgin varieties because condensation may develop in the bottle, affecting the flavor.
What is the Shelf Life of Olive Oil?
If it is properly stored, the shelf life of olive oil is a minimum of 15 months. If it is stored in its original container and remains unopened, it should last for 2 years or more.
Olive oil has the best flavor when it is used within a year after it is pressed and it is at its peak within 2 or 3 months after pressing. Unlike many types of wine, olive oil does not improve with age. As olive oil ages, it continually degrades and the acidity level rises. As a result, an older bottle of olive oil may have an unpleasant odor and taste, but it is still safe to consume.
Lower grades of olive oil usually have a shorter shelf life than top quality extra virgin oil because the acidity level is already higher at the time of bottling. A grade of olive such as semi-fine virgin, which has a much higher oleic acid content than extra virgin olive oil, may become less desirable after only a few months because the acidity level may rise to an unacceptable level.
Do Flavored Olive Oils Have Different Storage Rules?
Some flavored olive oils have additives that may require refrigeration in order to preserve them. Others may not require refrigeration because of the process used when manufacturing the olive oil, so it is best to read the label carefully. It is usually not safe to make your own flavored olive oils at home and keep them for any length of time. Some flavoring agents may promote the growth of bacteria and can only be safely added with commercial processes. You may, however, prepare homemade flavored olive oils if they are used immediately and any leftover oil is disposed of.
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