Extra virgin olive oil can enhance the flavors of any dish while infusing your food with health benefits, from monounsaturated fat that can lower cholesterol to antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body.
Not all extra virgin olive oils are created equal, however. Low prices can be a good indicator of low-quality. Lower quality oils degrade at a much faster rate than high-quality extra virgin olive oils. Once the olive oil turns rancid, those taste and health perks quickly diminish.
Follow these four key tips to help extend the life of your extra virgin olive oil by storing it correctly.
1. Keep it cool
When extra virgin olive oil is exposed to warm temperatures, it begins to oxidize and will eventually turn rancid. So, store your bottle away from heat (that includes your stovetop!). Olive oil expert Paul Miller recommends keeping it in a place that’s about 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Also good to know: Avoid stowing your bottle in the refrigerator, where the cold temperatures will cause the oil to solidify.
2. Avoid bright light
The ideal spot for extra virgin olive oil safekeeping is inside a cupboard or cabinet. While tinted bottles, such as Bertolli’s green packaging, help prevent ultraviolet rays from penetrating, long-term exposure to light can still affect the flavor.
3. Tightly seal the cap
With the shuffle and bustle of food prep, it’s not always easy to keep track of the cap for your olive oil bottle. But leaving the bottle open — or not secured tightly — allows air to easily access the oil, and that will accelerate the oxidation process. Highly oxidized oil becomes rancid oil, so it’s important to place the cap back on after each use!
4. Don’t buy in bulk
Extra virgin olive oil may be one of the few items you don’t want to buy in large quantities — unless, of course, you consume it at a rapid pace. Having a large bottle sitting around increases the chance of oxidation, and the oil may become rancid before you’ve had a chance to finish using it. Instead, consume one bottle at a time and buy as needed to make sure you are tasting the freshest oil. Miller recommends purchasing a size that you can finish in the span of a month or two.
Now that you’ve got the scoop on how to keep your oil fresh, you can drizzle the best possible extra virgin olive oil from the first to the last drop in the bottle.