Keeping Olive Oil Fresh

By Camilla Brown

Fresh extra virgin olive oil delivers a wonderful flavor and legendary health benefits.  To ensure that your olive oil maintains optimum freshness and flavor, there are a few things you can do to store it properly.

Avoid Heat, Light, and Air

When olive oil is exposed to heat, light, and air the valuable nutrients in the oil begin to oxidize and it will begin to lose its fruit flavors.  When buying extra virgin olive oil, look for those packaged in opaque or tinted glass.   Or, try pouring olive oil into a clean used red wine bottle equipped with a spout.  Do not store olive oil in plastic containers, as the oil can leach harmful substances out of the plastic.

Store your olive oil in a kitchen cabinet or another cool, dark location such as a basement or wine cellar.  Keep a small container of olive oil within easy reach, and the rest of your supply tucked away to avoid repeated exposure to air.  Make sure the lids of your containers fit tightly, and never store olive oil next to the stove, where it will invariably be exposed to heat.

Don’t Store Olive Oil Too Long

Olive oil should be consumed within two years of pressing.  Any longer, and the flavors deteriorate and the nutrients degrade.  Every month that olive oil ages, the acidity levels increase, a result of oxidization.  Extra-virgin olive oils have the potential to last longer than other grades because they have a lower acidity.  Buy your olive oil fresh from a supplier, or specialty retailer with high turnover.  Pick a bottle from the back of the shelf where it has been shielded from harsh lights.  Check the date of pressing if there is one, and abide by expiration dates.

Maybe most importantly, use extra virgin olive oil liberally. You’ll have a healthier diet and your supply will always be fresh.

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This article was last updated October 13, 2010 - 6:51 PM (GMT-5)

  • Laura

    I always thought chilling my olive oil would cloud it – so, this is some great information. As we have recently begun to substitute olive oil whenever possible when cooking or baking, I tend to buy and use quite frequently. Now I can buy in bigger bulk and know how to properly store it. Thanks.

  • Rebekkah

    I have frequently purchased olive oil in clear bottles, buying what was on sale at the market. I cook with it daily and now, instead of buying what is on sale, I will look for the oil in the dark bottles at the back of the shelf. Thank you.

  • comfort amoako

    Is it reasonable to store olive oil in the refrigerator to preserve its freshness?