How to store olive oil?

In my kitchen at home I do something I’ve heard many times you’re not supposed to do: I keep a a bottle of olive oil right next to the stove. It’s my go-to everyday cooking oil (I like California Olive Ranch Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil), and it’s just easier if it’s always right there at arm’s reach. But I do like to do things right, and I’ve started worrying that maybe I needed to reconsider my system. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to keep olive oil fresh. So I called up Maia Hirschbein, the oleologist at California Olive Ranch, to find out just how much trouble I was really in, and to get the final word from an expert on how to store olive oil and how to keep olive oil fresh—for as long as possible.

Hirschbein was glad to hear I wanted to talk about the subject, because no matter how good your olive oil is, she says, it’s how you store it once you get home that really makes the difference when it comes to preserving its flavor and quality. Here’s what she suggests:

1. Use That Bottle Up Within a Month

Light, air, and heat all contribute to the degradation of olive oil, she notes, particularly oxygen. The moment you open a bottle of olive oil (just like a bottle of wine), oxygen starts flooding it, and the degradation process begins. That’s why Hirschbein suggests using up a bottle of olive oil within a month or two of opening it. How quickly the oil goes rancid depends on many factors, however, including where and how you store it and the temperature of your kitchen. (To track the oil’s quality over time, Hirschbein suggests smelling the olive oil right when you open it and before every subsequent use—just like you’d sniff that open bottle of milk before using it to make sure it’s still fresh. You’ll know when your olive oil is going rancid when you notice that it “starts to take on a more crayon or Band-Aid smell.”)

Hirschbein assured me that if you’re plowing through olive oil quickly in your kitchen, storing it next to the stove is not the worst thing you can do—in fact she also keeps her everyday cooking oil right by her stove, in a ceramic cruet with a pour spout. (More on that below.) But she stores her specialty extra virgin olive oils, which she uses to finish a dish, in a dark cupboard away from the stove.

2. Store Olive Oil in the Right Containers

Hirschbein uses a ceramic cruet (which of course I’ve now ordered for myself). A ceramic cruet is especially good for storing olive oil because it not only blocks out light and air, but the thick ceramic walls help block out heat too. If you’re going to use a cruet, though, you have to wash it throughly before you refill it each time. Otherwise you’ll be mixing older oil in with your fresh oil, which will of course affect the oil’s taste.

I really love having a pour spout on my bottle of olive oil—it just makes swirling it into a skillet so much easier—but I was worried it might let too much air in. Fortunately Hirschbein says that the amount of air that gets in through the small opening of the pour spout is not any worse than the amount of air that gets in every time you open your bottle of olive oil. You can get one of the spouts that has a cap on top for even more air protection, though the ones with the little metal flap over the top are not really air-tight. For more on our favorite olive oil cruets, read here.

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3. If You Must Buy in Bulk, Go for a Bag-In-Box Option

Extra virgin olive oil can be expensive, and it can be tempting to buy it in the largest container possible to save money. But the bigger the container, the more time the oil is going to be exposed to oxygen, heat, and light before you finish it all up. That’s why, if you want to buy olive oil in bulk, Hirschbein suggests buying a bag-in-box container, which helps eliminate oxygen exposure.

You’ve probably seen this kind of packaging for for boxed wine, but it’s relatively new for olive oil. Keep your eyes open for it though—some stores do carry it, and you can also order it online. If you store that bag-in-box in a cool, dark place, and decant the oil into a ceramic cruet (that you’ve cleaned throughly before refilling), you’ll be following all the best practices for how to store olive oil. (Just make sure you know you’re actually going to go through that whole bag-in-box within a couple months before you make the investment.)

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It’s tempting and so easy to store oil right next to the cooker. Within arm’s reach to flavour soup, drizzle on a salad or simply just because you want to show off that handmade, ceramic bottle you brought back from a holiday. But when it comes to extra virgin olive oil, it’s important to be really careful to not spoil the taste that you fell in love with in the first place.

Extra virgin olive oil gets its intense flavour from the very first pressing of olives. It’s rich and complex at this point because it is pure and undiluted, with minimal processing. In a similar way to wine, olive oil has a complex variety of flavours to look out for. Ideally, you should expect a balance of fruit, spice and pepper notes, the latter is a sign of the healthy high antioxidant content and monounsaturated fatty acids, which helps to reduce cholesterol levels so is great for weight loss and shiny locks.

MORE: WHY SMOOTHIES MIGHT NOT BE AS HEALTHY AS YOU THINK

However, unlike wine, olive oil does not improve with age. An unopened bottle can on average last two years, in the right conditions! Once opened, try to use it within six months or earlier.

Our experts advise you to use liberally and keep it safe from its three main enemies: oxygen, light, and heat.

When exposed to those elements, the oil will turn rancid more quickly, taking on a mustier, more earthy flavour profile with notes of vinegar. The best way to prevent this (and extend your oil’s shelf life) is proper storage. The optimum temperature for storing oil is 14-18˚C, so keep in a cool, dry, dark cupboard, away from the heat and light. Limit exposure to oxygen. Use oil soon after buying it, and always keep it stored with a cap or lid.

MORE: ‘BEST BEFORE’ AND ‘USE BY’ – WHAT DO THEY MEAN?

What’s the Deal With Olive Oil’s Shelf Life?

Everything in our kitchens has a pretty set expiration date. For some things it’s printed in tiny black numbers on the bottom of the box. For others—say, fruit—it’s pretty obvious when those suckers have got to go. But what about olive oil? When exactly that turns bad is a bit harder to discern.

My counter is never without a bottle, sometimes a jug, of the stuff. I use it daily as a slippery friend for sautéing or drizzling or breathing new life into dried-out leftovers. It’s a fatty deep golden workhorse. Rarely can I get some to last more than a month, but sometimes a jar falls by the wayside. There’s the specialty stuff that I use for dressing salads that gets lost behind other bottles. So how long does that one last?

Well, for starters, it’s important to keep olive oil under certain conditions. There are some factors that can actually speed up the aging process and turn your bottle rancid. Olive oil should always be kept in a cool, dark place. No, not like a literal cave—nothing that intense. Opt instead for a cabinet, a pantry, or a countertop, as long as it’s not in any spot with direct sunlight. Olive oil usually comes in aluminum cans or dark green glass bottles. This keeps a significant amount of light out, but still, don’t go putting your bottle of EVOO on a windowsill. Temperature, too, is important. Too much heat could render your oil rancid before its time. Somewhere in your kitchen that doesn’t get too hot is ideal. And don’t worry about keeping your bottles and cans in the fridge: Studies show that olive oil goes bad at the same rate in the cold as it does at room temperature. Making sure the lid is on tight is another way to stretch its shelf life for as long as possible—air causes the oil to oxidize and go bad faster.

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Olive oil is ultimately perishable, but, like whales and tortoises, it has a very long life. If stored properly, a bottle of extra-virgin can last around 20 months. That’s almost two years. Granted, I’d be hard pressed to not use a bottle in its entirety during that time.

If you’re unsure about an oil’s shelf life, a good old taste/smell test will always do the trick. It sounds unscientific, but your senses are a much better gauge than you may think. Take a whiff of the oil. If it doesn’t smell like olive oil, then it’s ready to go. Toss it and start fresh.

How do you keep your pantry clean and up-to-date? Tell us your tricks in the comments.

Ultimate Guide to Olive Oil

Because of olive oil’s high monounsaturated fat content, it can be stored longer than most other oils — as long as it’s stored properly. Oils are fragile and need to be treated gently to preserve their healthful properties and to keep them from becoming a health hazard full of free radicals.

When choosing your storage location, remember that heat, air, and light are the enemies of oil. These elements help create free radicals, which eventually lead to excessive oxidation and rancidity in the oil that will leave a bad taste in your mouth. Even worse, oxidation and free radicals contribute to heart disease and cancer.

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Rancidity can set in long before you can taste it or smell it. Rotten oils harm cells and use up precious antioxidants. Even though rancid oil doesn’t pose a food-safety type of health risk, the less you consume, the better.

The best storage containers for olive oil are made of either tinted glass (to keep out light) or a nonreactive metal, such as stainless steel. Avoid metal containers made of iron or copper because the chemical reactions between the olive oil and those metals create toxic compounds. Avoid most plastic, too; oil can absorb noxious substances such as polyvinyl chlorides (PVCs) out of the plastic. Containers also need a tight cap or lid to keep out unwanted air.

Keep It Cool

Temperature is also important in preventing degradation of olive oil. Experts recommend storing the oil at 57 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of a wine cellar. Aren’t lucky enough to have a wine cellar? A room temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit will be fine. If your kitchen is routinely warmer than that, you can refrigerate the oil.

In fact, refrigeration is best for long-term storage of all olive oils except premium extra-virgin ones. Consider keeping small amounts of olive oil in a sealed container at room temperature — perhaps in a small, capped porcelain jug that keeps out air and light. This way, your olive oil is instantly ready to use. Keep the rest in the refrigerator, but remember that refrigerated olive oil will solidify and turn cloudy, making it difficult to use. Returning it to room temperature restores its fluidity and color.

Another option is to store olive oil in a wide-mouth glass jar in the refrigerator. Even though it solidifies, you can easily spoon out any amount you need. A clear jar is fine because it’s dark inside the refrigerator most of the time.

If you don’t want to refrigerate your olive oil, keep it in a dark, cool cupboard away from the stove or other heat-producing appliances. Olive oil connoisseurs recommend storing premium extra-virgin olive oils at room temperature. If refrigerated, condensation could develop and adversely affect their flavor. Refrigeration does not affect the quality or flavor of other olive oils.

Olive oil will keep well if stored in a sealed container in a cool, dark cupboard for about one year. If unopened, the oil may keep for as long as two years.

Older Isn’t Better

Unlike wine, oil does not improve with age. As olive oil gets older, it gradually breaks down, more free oleic acid is formed, the acidity level rises, and flavor weakens. Extra-virgin oils keep better because they have a low acidity level to start with, but you should use lower-quality oils within months because they start out with higher acidity levels. As oil sits on your shelf, its acidity level rises daily, and soon it is not palatable.

You’ll get the best quality and flavor from your olive oil if you use it within a year of pressing. Olive oil remains at its peak for about two or three months after pressing, but unfortunately, few labels carry bottling dates or “use by” dates, let alone pressing dates.

More is at issue than flavor, however. Research shows the nutrients in olive oil degrade over time.

In a study that appeared in the May 2004 issue of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, Spanish researchers tested virgin olive oil that had been stored for 12 months under perfect conditions.

What they found was quite surprising: After 12 months, many of the oil’s prime healing substances had practically vanished. All the vitamin E was gone, as much as 30 percent of the chlorophyll had deteriorated, and 40 percent of the beta-carotene had disintegrated. Phenol levels had dropped dramatically, too.

Instead of stashing your olive oil in the cabinet, why not unleash its flavor on your favorite foods? The next page has tons of tips for how to use olive oil.

To learn more about the topics covered in this article, check out the following links:

  • To learn about how olive oil can improve your health, read The Health Benefits of Olive Oil.
  • If you wanted to know how to grow and use garlic, try How to Plant and Store Garlic.
  • Natural Weight-Loss Food: Olive Oil, can tell you more about how olive oil can help you lose weight.

The Little-Known Secret to Keeping Your Olive Oil Fresh

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A drizzle of olive oil is the start and the finish to countless classic recipes. Its versatile flavor and top-notch nutrition profile give us every reason to pour it on pasta, fish, salad, bread, cake batter, pizza, directly into our mouths… the list goes on.

Considering how frequently we use olive oil, it makes sense that so many home cooks keep the bottle right next to the stove within arm’s reach. Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in regards to keeping your favorite ingredient fresh. Olive oil deteriorates and turns rancid more rapidly when exposed to light, heat, and air—so storing it next to the hot stove (and under the bright overhead lighting) is just about the worst place possible. Here’s all the must-know information from the olive oil experts at Bertolli on keeping olive oil as fresh as possible.

Avoid bright light and opt for a tinted bottle.

At the grocery store, reach for a bottle at the back of the shelf, where the oil is shielded from fluorescent light. Be sure to buy brands bottled in dark-colored glass or plastic to help prevent ultraviolet rays from penetrating the bottle. (If you do buy oil in clear glass, wrap the bottle in foil when you get home and keep it covered.) Long-term exposure to light can affect flavor, too, so store EVOO in a dark cupboard or cabinet to prevent oxidation.

Keep the bottle closed.

In the midst of cooking it’s easy to set a bottle of olive oil down, unopened, for some time. But leaving the bottle open–or even not secured tightly–allows air to easily access the oil which accelerates the oxidation process and therefore, could cause the oil to turn rancid. Keep yours tight at all times for optimal freshness.

Keep it cool – but not in the fridge.

EVOO exposed to warm temperatures will begin to oxidize and eventually turn rancid. Bottles should be stored away from heat but not in a cold place that will cause the oil to solidify. Bertolli’s olive oil expert, Paul Miller, recommends storing olive oil around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

RELATED: How to Use Olive Oil to Make Every Dish Taste Better

Use it or lose it.

Olive oil isn’t an item to buy in large quantities unless it will be consumed at a rapid pace. Because so many factors affect oxidation, an oil could turn rancid before the bottle is finished. Bottles should be consumed one-at-a-time and bought as-needed to ensure the freshest oil.

How To Store Olive Oil [… And Why You’re Probably Doing It Wrong]

What’s the key to storing bulk olive oil correctly? It’s pretty simple– you can just think of a traditional wine cellar and you’ll have it.

Close your eyes. Picture that dreary, dark, cold wine cellar with all those barrels stacked floor to ceiling. Somewhat romantic right? Okay, we know most wine cellars don’t really look like that anymore. But it paints a good picture!

That picture has all the tell tale clues of how your olive oil also wants to be stored. Making note of them (and then changing your storage conditions to abide by them) will help your oil maintain its freshness for as long as possible. surface

How To Store Olive Oil

So what are those key factors to storing your oil right?

1. Keep It Cool

Why did they choose a wine cellar anyway, and not an attic?? They’re both empty space you can use for storage!

They cellar was chosen for a very good reason… Because it’s cool. Cold. Brisk. Not freezing, but definitely chilly. It’s the ideal way to maintain a fresh product like olive oil (and of course, wine, for that matter). The cellar is not necessarily fridgerated, but right on the brink.

The Olive Oil Source recommends storing your oil at 50º. Normally anywhere between 50º and 64º will do, but cooler on that range you can have it stored, the longer it will keep.

What you can do about it: Be smart about where you store your olive oil. You can actually store it in a fridge, though it will probably solidify. That’s okay though! Otherwise, keep a larger container of oil down in your basement, and refill a small bottle that you use in your kitchen on a daily basis.

2. Keep It Dark

Yes, old traditional cellars were normally dark and dreary looking.

But more importantly than what the people could see when they went down there was what the wine could “see” from inside it’s packaging. How much sunlight could it see through the wood? None!

Because wine was typically stored in closed wood barrels, no light could get through. Why wasn’t wine stored in big glass jugs? The answer: avoid light at all costs! And that’s what the wood material does. It keeps the light out.

What you can do about it: Choose packaging that keeps out light. In the bulk world, this is is most of them, so you should be safe. But the best ones are the drums and the Bag in a Box totes. If you’re buying for your home, look for anything that isn’t clear glass.

3. Keep It Away From Air

Another perk of those barrels? They keep the air out. If you used the wine from 2 of them, the rest of the barrels in the cellar remain sealed, each tightly cupping the liquid inside.

Think of this in comparison to the alternative. Let’s pretend that the wine is stored in a big huge vat instead. Each time you take some wine out, the level drops down a bit and oxygen sits in the top of that vat in place of the liquid. That air is touching the surface of the remaining wine in the vat, and is slowing eating away at the quality of the product.

The same applies to olive oil. That’s why many olive oil manufacturers will pump their storage tanks full with nitrogen at the top to remove oxygen and slow down the oxidation process.

What you can do about it: Store your olive oil in a packaging that helps keep out the air. For example, the bag in a box totes use a bag to hold the oil. As you use it, that bag collapses around the oil and protects it from the air. Containers like the drums and IBC totes don’t do that.

In your home kitchen, look for Bag in a Box containers.

Why You’re Probably Doing It Wrong At Home

The bottom line is… you’re probably doing some of this stuff right, but not all of it. Just think…

How many glass caraffes of olive oil have you seen your friends use in their kitchen? Maybe you even use one! Don’t they look nice sitting out on your counter?

Yes, they do but you’re also slowly ruining your olive oil. You kitchen gets warm. You have windows that let light in. The bottle is glass so that light gets through. And as you use it, air gets into that bottle.

Even if you store it in your cabinet– is it being stored in a clear glass bottle or a green one? Does it let air in?

Goodness! What to do, what to do?

Here’s What We Recommend For Home Storage

You can buy a wholesale volume of olive oil (like a 3 Liter container or 35 Lb. Container). Store it down in your basement and refill a small (preferrably green) glass bottle from it. Store that bottle in your cabinet. Or, use the oil right out of a bag in a box container.

It’s as close as you can get to perfect olive oil storage at home!

What Happens If You Store Olive Oil Wrong?

Storage conditions can make or break the quality of your olive oil. Long story short, if it’s stored wrong, it goes rancid far sooner than it should. For example, here’s a great photo that I took from a home experiment.

The photo on the left is Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil that has been sitting out on my counter, in my bright kitchen for about 2 months. My kitchen has a lot of light, and it’s also pretty warm. So here was my experiment:

I selected the bottle on the left, took a photo and then dumped the oil out. Then I refilled the bottle again from the 3 Liter Container that I store my oil in, which is kept in my cabinet. The photo on the right is taken right after that refill, about 2 minues after the photo on the left was taken.

But here’s the kicker… The oil in both photos was filled using the same 3 Liter Container. Same manufacture date, same lot code, same exact oil. The difference in color really just comes down to how it was stored once it was put into the glass bottle.

Don’t make this mistake in your own kitchen!

Topics: Olive Oil

Should olive oil be stored in the refrigerator?

Experts agree that olive oil should be stored in a cool dark place. Does that mean you should store olive oil in the refrigerator?

Olive oil changes when stored in the refrigerator. Olive oil will form crystals and start to solidify when subjected to cold temperatures. Once the olive oil is brought back to room temperature the oil will return to its liquid state.

Some research suggests that repeated heating and cooling – such as storing it in the fridge in between uses – puts stress on the oil and doesn’t necessarily extend the shelf life.

Furthermore, it is an inconvenience to bring the olive oil back to room temperature in order to use it.

Storing your olive oil in a cool dark cupboard or pantry is the way to go. Make sure that your olive oil is also tightly capped and that you buy olive oil in bottles that you will use within a few months of opening.

Note: Some people believe that you can use the refrigerator to test for olive oil authenticity. This is 100% false. There is no reliable home test to check for olive oil authenticity.

If you are looking for assurance that the olive oil you buy meets global olive oil quality and purity standards, look for the NAOOA quality seal. A list of brands that carry the seal can be found on the NAOOA website.