The Do’s & Don’ts for Storing Olive Oil to Keep It Fresh

An email landed here recently inquiring about the need to consume olive oil within 60 to 90 days of harvest. The writer also asked how fresh our oils are “from harvest to table.”

“Great question,” we replied. It’s an important topic we want to share with all of you.

Freshness is crucial. We go to great lengths to ensure our extra virgin olive oil stays as fresh as possible once we harvest and crush our olives. (Unlike wine, olive oil doesn’t improve with age. Quite the opposite.)

We also make sure our oil lasts as long as possible when you bring it home. We bottle it in dark green bottles and boxes, for example, to protect it from light.

Olive oil has four enemies:

Time – The time from tree to crush to fully produced oil must be as brief as possible.
Light – Exposure must be minimized or eliminated at all times.
Temperature – The optimal storage for olive oil is 60 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit.
Oxygen – Exposure must be minimized or eliminated during storage.

Here’s how to safeguard your oil:

  • When shopping, look for a harvest date.  THIS IS A BIG DEAL.  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. The label also shows a “Best By” date for using the oil. Olive oil is best when consumed within two years.
  • Keep your oil away from direct light, preferably in a dark cupboard or storage area. Ultraviolet rays can break down an olive oil over time.
  • Keep your oil away from any heat source. It can get damaged if exposed to heat from a nearby stove or oven.
  • Prevent your oil from being exposed to air.  Air can degrade oil quality and the process starts once the oil is exposed to air.  We store our oil prior to bottling in airtight tanks.
  • Once opened, use oil quickly and store it in smaller bottles to minimize its exposure to oxygen. We recommend you consume your olive oil within 30-60 days of opening the bottle.

It pains us to hear about people who buy expensive oils and “save” them for special occasions, doling out a few tablespoons every few months.  Their oil is going bad!

It’s important to look for signs the oil has been kept fresh, but consumption within 30-60 days of harvest is not critical for extra virgin olive oil. It’s also worth noting there’s only one olive harvest a year in any given region (it’s not a continuous harvest like other crops). So if we used all of our oil within 60 days of harvest, we’d be without oil for much of the year.

We do sell one oil for only about 90 days post-harvest: Limited Reserve.  It’s unfiltered for an incredibly grassy, fresh flavor.  But because it basically goes straight from tree to bottle, we can only sell it for a limited time.  On our website, you can sign up to find out when it becomes available (usually mid-November, depending on our exact harvest timing).  People love this oil!

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch