Yogurt is made from simple, fresh ingredients and is best consumed shortly after packaging. Likewise, extra virgin olive oil is made from one fresh ingredient, and is best consumed shortly after bottling. The idea of eating yogurt with a curiously long “best by” date is not very appealing. So why would you want to use extra virgin olive oil with a two-year or three-year expiration date? Of course, yogurt and olive oil are vastly different types of food, but the sentiment remains true: the fresher the olive oil, the better the taste.
The moment an olive is pressed, and its oil is extracted, it’s exposed to air and the clock starts. Oxidation occurs (which is when oil reacts with air), and its beneficial properties—like healthy fatty acids—start to break down.
We bottle the oil as soon as possible after harvest so that it arrives on store shelves fresh and ready for consumption. Unlike a fine wine, olive oil does not get better with age and should not be saved for a special occasion or later date. Every bottle of Bertolli olive oil is stamped with a harvest date and a “best if used by” date, among other important information about where the oil blend came from. For example, a bottle of Bertolli extra virgin olive oil with a harvest date of January 29, 2019, has a “best if used by” date of May 29, 2020.
While some companies say their extra virgin olive oils are good for up to 24 months, we’re not taking the chance. By marking our extra virgin olive oils with an approximate 16-month shelf life, we’re able to ensure that any bottle bought within that time will still be flavorful and full of the health benefits extra virgin olive oil is known for. We even have teams that regularly visit stores and check the freshness of our olive oil on shelves to ensure that the quality is living up to our standards.
Once a bottle of olive oil is opened, its shelf life depends on how the bottle is stored. A clear bottle with an ill-fitting cap that is placed in a sunny spot or by the stove will turn rancid very quickly and have an off-putting waxy smell, like a crayon or putty. That’s because exposure to light, oxygen and heat causes the oil to oxidize faster. Conversely, olive oil in a dark-tinted bottle that’s properly sealed and stored somewhere cool and away from light can last up to a few months. Pro tip: As you get to the oil in the bottom of the bottle, it doesn’t hurt to smell it before use to make sure it hasn’t turned rancid!
Looking for more ways to keep your olive oil fresh? Read our four tips here.