Posted by Olivia on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
With summer here, things are really starting to heat up—both outside and inside the kitchen. To prepare for the hot months, learn how to keep your olive oils fresh in the house, and be sure to know how to tell when they are no longer fresh.
The thing that’s so fascinating about olive oil is its high level of antioxidants—exactly the things that make it a heart-protective and cancer-fighting fat! But like many other things, once exposed to air, the oil begins to oxidize and it slowly loses freshness. Over long periods of time, the olive oil antioxidant levels will eventually drop.
Fortunately, this process takes place slowly, and chances are that you’re going through olive oil faster than it oxidizes. Depending on which olive oil you’re opening, a new bottle will last anywhere from three months to two years. Olio Nuovo, the “new oil” which is bottled immediately after pressing, will last just up to two months or so. Most other extra virgins can run up to one or two years and still be fresh, just a bit less vibrant (or if you’re like us, you’re going through a bottle of olive oil every month or so, so there is no need to worry about your oils going rancid, as long as you store them properly!)
If you’re not sure if your oil has gone past its optimal shelf life, smell and taste it—it won’t kill you! Good olive oil should still maintain the fresh, fruity aroma it had when first purchased. If it has any aroma or taste of “stale nuts” or “crayons,” it’s probably past its prime. A bit of sediment occurring at the bottom of the bottle is natural, just as with unfiltered beer or wine products. Again, use your sense to tell if the oil tastes or smells rancid—that’s your best indicator.
To ensure your olive oil can withstand the summer season, be sure to store it in a dark, cool place—whether this is a cupboard away from the kitchen window or a shelf in the shady kitchen corner, the key is to keep your oil away from direct heat and light, and make sure the cork or cap is on tight. If you’re buying oil in bulk, congratulations on taking steps to saving money and resources! Protect your larger amounts of oil by keeping them in a stainless steel fusto, and only pour out a cup or two at a time into cruet bottles or serving ware for daily usage.