EVOO has a very long and rich history (link here to the post about olive oil regions). In Mediterranean history, EVOO has been used for everything from an elixir, to a massage oil, to a dipping sauce, to the prime ingredient in olive oil wrestling. It should be no surprise then to see EVOO referred to as liquid gold. Similar to gold, olive oil is not inexpensive. To get the most from your investment, and retain its health benefits, the storing and preservation of olive oil should be taken seriously.
Fresh, once bottled, EVOO should be consumed within 6-8 months; no more than a year. We have to stop thinking that EVOO is a shelf stable condiment. It shouldn’t have an expiry date for 2 years, by then the oil is old, perhaps even rancid. EVOO should be stored in a closed container in a cool, dark place as heat, light, air and time are its worst enemies. As we’ve noted previously (link to the post about the health benefits of olive oil), olive oil’s health benefits are primarily derived from the fact that it is made up of monounsaturated fats, which are the good fats. It also contains vitamin E, beta carotene, and polyphenols.
When exposed to heat, light, or air, EVOO will become rancid and undergo oxidation. That rancidity creates free radicals in EVOO which lead to the breaking down of cells in the body and chronic diseases. While rancid EVOO doesn’t create a food safety issue, it doesn’t taste good and just isn’t good for your body and overall health.
While keeping EVOO in the best condition possible is important, for the average cook this may not be instinctive. The good news is that there are some very easy ways to get the most from your EVOO, just by implementing good storage practices. If you buy your olive oil in bulk, you can place a small amount in a container for regular use. The best containers for this are either tinted glass, stainless steel, or ceramic. Place a small amount in one of those types of containers for everyday use, and it store it in the pantry. If you choose to have a smaller container to keep at arm’s reach, be sure to keep it out of direct sunlight and away from the stove where the heat can contribute to the oil’s demise.
Our favourite recommendation for keeping your EVOO in the best condition possible is of course to use it regularly. Don’t save it for special occasions; make every day an opportunity to incorporate EVOO into a healthier, and more flavourful, lifestyle.