Proper storage is essential for keeping your extra virgin olive oil as fresh as possible. Since light, heat, and oxygen are the main culprits that lead to rancid EVOO, it is critical to protect your oil from those variables. Even the best olive oil will degrade quickly if not stored properly. But what’s the best way to store your olive oil?
Some people keep theirs in a serving cruet beside their stove. Others prefer to display their high-dollar olive oil in a beautiful bottle on their kitchen counter. Still, others keep it tucked away in a cool, dark, cabinet or pantry, bringing it out only to use as much as they need for each meal. With familiar options like these, many people are left wondering how to store their olive oil. Which storage method is the best? Great question.
PRESERVE EVOO BY PROTECTING IT FROM LIGHT, HEAT, AND OXYGEN
We mentioned it quickly at the start of this article, but it’s worth stating again: when it comes to keeping your EVOO fresh, light, heat, and oxygen are not your friends. Since each affects the oil in a unique way, we want to take a closer look at all three and show you how proper storage can protect your olive oil and keep it from turning rancid.
Since EVOO is an unrefined oil extracted from a plant, it is packed full of natural antioxidants and polyphenols. It also contains high amounts of chlorophyll ― the natural chemical that plants use for photosynthesis. The greener the oil, the more chlorophyll it contains. When extra virgin olive oil is exposed to sunlight, the light interacts with the chlorophyll and creates a chemical reaction known as photo-oxidation. This reaction destabilizes the oil and degrades its overall quality. Many olive oil producers package their product in dark or opaque packaging to reduce its exposure to light. By storing it in a dark closet, cupboard, or pantry, you can reduce the potential for photo-oxidation even further.
56 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for storing extra virgin olive oil, but temperates up to 70 degrees are acceptable as well. If you store your EVOO in a location where temperatures regularly exceed 70 degrees (i.e., next to a stove or oven, in a window that gets direct sunlight, etc.), the heart can cause the oil to degrade and turn rancid sooner than it would otherwise. This process negatively impacts the flavour and health benefits of the oil. To safeguard against these reactions, store your oil in a cool, dry location. Some olive oil enthusiasts keep them in temperature-controlled units like wine refrigerators or wine cellars, but a kitchen closet or pantry works just as well.
Potentially the most damaging variable, oxygen is also the hardest to avoid. The moment you open a traditional bottle or package of olive oil, air floods in. Initially, this isn’t a huge problem, as extra virgin olive oil contains large amounts of antioxidants and polyphenols that help it resist immediate oxidation. However, prolonged oxygen exposure will overpower those natural protectants and cause rapid degrading that leads to rancid olive oil. If you buy your EVOO in bottles, there’s no way to avoid opening the bottle each time you use it. Most importantly, always remember to put the top back on the bottle after using it. A sealed container will keep more oxygen from entering and damaging your oil. If you won’t use all of your olive oil in one sitting, pour just enough for that meal into a dish or dispenser. Then, return the closed bottle to its regular storage location. (Of course, it’s easier to avoid unnecessary oxygen exposure by purchasing a La Panza Olive Oil Pantry Pouch, but more on that later.)
WHAT IS THE BEST CONTAINER FOR STORING OLIVE OIL?
Glass bottle. Plastic. Stainless steel dispenser. Ceramic cruet. Pantry Pouch. At one point or another, you’ve probably seen extra virgin olive oil stored in all these containers. While many olive oil producers prefer the traditional glass bottle, a growing number of distributors are opting for more cost-effective plastic containers. Some olive oil enthusiasts prefer to buy their favourite EVOO and transfer it to a different container when they get home. With all these options in mind, let’s look at the pros and cons of each:
Arguably the most popular olive oil container, glass bottles are aesthetically pleasing and relatively easy to handle. Dark glass blocks much ― though not all ― of the harmful light rays that can damage the oil. As long as you don’t place them near heat sources like stoves or ovens, glass bottles are reasonably effective at keeping their contents at a safe temperature.
Can you store olive oil in plastic bottles? Sure. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. For consumers who go through large amounts of olive oil in a short time, plastic containers can be a good option. That being said, if your olive oil usually lasts a month or longer, you should steer clear of plastic bottles. Over time, chemicals can transfer from the plastic container to the olive oil, dramatically changing its flavour and potentially exposing you to harmful chemicals.
STAINLESS STEEL DISPENSER
This option is a good idea for EVOO lovers who purchase their olive oil in bulk. Large bottles or tins can be awkward to handle and even more awkward to display on a table or counter. Transferring small amounts of olive oil to stainless steel dispensers is a good way to use only the oil you need while keeping the rest of it in its original container. Stainless steel does and excellent job of blocking light and keeping the oil cool. And unlike reactive metals like copper or iron, stainless steel won’t tarnish over time and release impurities into your oil.
While other olive oil containers protect their contents against light and heat, none of them are especially effective at guarding against the damaging effects of oxygen. That’s why we developed the La Panza Olive Oil Pantry Pouch. Our innovative, airtight packaging preserves the freshness, flavour, and nutrients of EVOO by protecting from light, heat, and oxygen. The pouch’s built-in spout lets you pour the olive oil you need without removing a lid and exposing it to oxygen. It also features a metallic liner that keeps the oil even cooler than standard packaging.
DOES OLIVE OIL NEED TO BE REFRIGERATED?
From time to time, people ask us whether it's a good idea to refrigerate their olive oil. Their reasoning probably goes something like this, “If dark is good, darker is better. If cool is good, cold is better”. While we understand that thought process, we advise against storing extra virgin olive oil in the refrigerator. While cool temperatures preserve olive oil in liquid form, excessive cold can cause it to become cloudy and eventually solidified. While the oil will eventually return to its liquid state after being returned to room temperature, some research suggests that repeated temperature swings can reduce the oil’s quality and freshness.
If you want to keep your extra virgin olive oil fresh, flavourful, and healthy, we recommend a storage method that protects it against light, heat, and oxygen. And if you want to take the guesswork out of choosing a storage option that guards against all three, pick up one of our Olive Oil Pantry pouches today!