Shelf Life and Storage of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Every advocate of healthy and balanced diet will highlight extra virgin olive oil on the list of most nutritious foods. The abundance of antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids makes it the healthiest among oils, which is why it is ubiquitous in every kitchen. Of course, its nutritional properties could be diminished by misuse and inadequate storage, so to get the most out of oil, we have a few tips.
Plastic packaging – no way
The biggest enemy of extra virgin olive oil is plastic packaging and transparent bottles. Light and air in contact with the oil impair its quality. It is recommended to store the oil in dark, smaller volume glass bottles. The reason is to keep the empty space above the oil, which increases with consumption, as small as possible. You want less oxygen, as it necessarily leads to unwanted oxidation process in the oil. Glass does not absorb or emit any odors, it is easy to clean, provides complete protection from oxygen, but not from light, so darker colored glass bottles are recommended.
Do not keep olive oil near daylight and heat
Extra virgin olive oil should be kept away from heat sources such as stoves or direct daylight. When extra virgin olive oil is exposed to heat, its polyphenols decompose, which means that extra virgin olive oil loses its quality. This doesn’t mean you can’t use olive oil for frying, because oleic fatty acid is stable at high temperatures, but it is true that it’s best to store your olive oil in a dark glass bottle and in a dark and cool place. Even if it means your olive oil will get frozen, freezing will not harm the olive oil. Freezing of the olive oils was traditionally considered a sign of quality because there were always many fake olive oil products that were unable to freeze, but today more sophisticated and accurate methods are used to establish the olive oil quality.
Quality and color of olive oil
There are many opinions that the color of extra virgin olive oil is an indicator of its quality, but the color might only indicate the harvest time and when the olives were pressed. Shades of extra virgin olive oil vary from light yellow to dark green, and both are good. If you buy extra virgin olive oil of intense green color, you can only be sure that it was stored appropriately, in a dark bottle, away from light sources, and at the temperature of 15 to 20 degrees.
Olive oil shelf life
When buying extra virgin olive oil, the biggest problem is to find out when it was produced because the label rarely contains the date of olive harvest and production. Precisely because of this, you can’t know how old that extra virgin olive oil is. Generally, extra virgin olive oil gradually loses its polyphenols with time. Therefore, if the expiration date is not written, follow the rules and use the extra virgin olive oil within a year after the opening. Although the oil might lose some of its properties past its best before date, it is far from inedible. Of course, shelf life differs greatly whether the oil is stored on a heated super-market shelf or in temperature-controlled dark place.
Certain compounds in extra virgin olive oil protect it both from the oxidation process and autooxidation. Phenolic compounds are natural antioxidants in extra virgin olive oil that have a protective effect on our body as well. In addition to this role, they are also important because they protect it from oxidative spoilage and extend its shelf life.
These effective natural antioxidants increase the product’s resistance to spoilage. The maximum concentration of these compounds is present at the time of harvest, when the ratio of the oil in the fruit and the proportion of phenolic compounds is the most favorable. In the process of fruit ripening, the concentration of phenolic compounds goes up until a certain point when it begins to decrease.
Extra virgin olive oil has the property of easily absorbing fragrant and volatile substances. In this way, it acquires undesirable organoleptic characteristics that disrupt and change its quality. It is therefore important that the storage environment is free of any odors, pleasant or unpleasant. We must not forget that extra virgin olive oil is a food product of high nutritional and biological properties which can be irreversibly destroyed by improper storage.
Once opened, it is recommended to consume it within a few months to one year. During this period, extra virgin olive oil will surely retain its characteristic taste and aroma.
The most important characteristic of extra virgin olive oil is the flavor, which enhances the food to which it is added.
From the moment of harvesting, production and packaging, shelf life of extra virgin olive oil is usually 12 to 24 months. If it is out of date, it is not spoiled. It can only lose its recognizable taste and some properties, no longer belonging to the category of extra virgin, but becoming a virgin olive oil.