Europe’s Olive Oil Brouhaha and Why It’s Vital to Store Your Oil Properly

I once again thought about why it’s crucial to store olive oil at home properly while I was reading about the media firestorm that erupted in Europe recently. It began after the European Union banned restaurants from serving olive oil in cruets or dipping bowls at tables. Instead, restaurateurs would have to serve oil in clearly labeled and nonreusable containers. The EU said the move was designed to promote hygiene, and that the labeling would ensure the quality and authenticity of olive oil. Artois Bottling Line

But it unleashed such a backlash from top European politicians and the media that the EU soon scrapped the plan. The photos that accompanied many of the articles showed oil being served at tables in clear glass cruets – like the one in the photo below. It made me think that, at home, that’s something you want to avoid – keeping your oil in a clear container. It won’t shield it from light, which causes oil to degrade in quality.

When storing olive oil, keep in mind that fresh extra virgin olive oil has four enemies:

  • Time – Once bottled, olive oil has a two-year shelf life. And once you open your oil, you’ll want to use it sooner versus later. We recommend using up the oil within 30 to 60 days.
  • Light – Exposure must be minimized or eliminated at all times.
  • Temperature – The optimal storage for olive oil is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Oxygen – Exposure must be minimized or eliminated during storage. We top off each bottle of our oil with a small amount of nitrogen to force out any residual oxygen before the bottle is capped.

Here are tips for how to safeguard your oil and ensure it’s as fresh as possible.Olive Oil Cruet from Fotosearch

At the store, look for a harvest date.  If there’s no harvest date on the container, it’s quite possible people are trying to bottle oil that might be more than two years old.  We put the harvest date on the back label of our bottle in a box. That box also shows a “Best By” date for using the oil.

A bottle of our 2013 Everyday oil, for example, shows a harvest date of November 2012. And if that oil was bottled in March 2013, it will show a “Best By” date of March 2015; an unopened bottle of olive oil is best when consumed within two years.

Keep your oil away from direct light. Store your oil in a dark cupboard, or a closed pantry or similar storage area. Don’t keep it by the window. Ultraviolet rays can break down an olive oil over time. It’s why we bottle our oil in dark green bottles.

Keep your oil away from heat. It can get damaged if exposed to heat. So avoid keeping it near a stove or oven.

Protect your oil from being exposed to air.  Air can degrade oil quality and the process starts once the oil is exposed to air.  Once you open a bottle, use oil quickly and store it in smaller bottles or steel containers to minimize its exposure to oxygen.

Bon appétit,

California Olive Ranch Master Miller Bob Singletary