Storing Olive Oil 101


A necessity for most Italian or Mediterranean foods, people love this oil for its versatility and its smooth, mild flavor. There are, however, persistent confusions around how best to store olive oil. 

Store olive oil in a cool, dark location away from light. It’s best to store olive oil in a tinted glass container. Olive oil should be kept at a temperature between 55-60, although it can be refrigerated or frozen if needed.

This oil may have an incredibly long shelf life, but if you’re hoping to keep that delicious flavor, there are a few things you’ll need to know. Read on to learn how to keep your best olive oils tasty and fresh for as long as possible.

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Should I Store Olive Oil in the Fridge?

Whether or not you should store your olive oil in the refrigerator depends mainly on the conditions of your kitchen. Therefore, should you store olive oil in the fridge?

Olive oil should be stored in the fridge if the room temperature rises above 70. Leaving olive oil in warmer temperatures affects shelf life and lessens the quality of the oil.

Experts say that olive oil is kept at its freshest quality when kept at a temperature between 55-60℉ (13-15℃). Lucia Patritto of Michigan State University states that if your kitchen rises above 70℉ (21℃), the refrigerator is your best option to keep your olive oil fresh 1. 

Doing so temporarily changes the condition of the olive oil, but it will go furthest in maintaining its flavor profile and nutritional value. 

Remember, because of so many heat-creating appliances, kitchens tend to be a bit warmer than most other rooms of the house. To add to this, extra virgin olive oil, widely considered the most desirable, goes rancid at a faster rate when exposed to heat 2.

Since olive oil is expensive, you may be tempted to buy it in bulk to save money. I used to do the same but the taste will suffer. A company called Corto sells it in a bag within a box with a spout. This technology is similar to what they’ve been doing with wines for years.

The olive oil will stay fresher and allows you to buy in bulk. They sell it on Amazon which you can check out right here, Corto Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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What Happens to Frozen Olive Oil?

Once exposed to frozen temperatures, olive oil begins to form tiny crystals and solidify. Frozen olive oil can be brought back to room temperature without any adverse effects on the oil itself.  

One team of chemists even claims the flavor profile can be improved through the process of freezing.

The oil will quickly resort back to liquid form when brought to room temperature. This could serve as an obvious problem if you hope to drizzle the oil over the surface of a dish quickly.  

If you regularly use olive oil in your cooking, the best solution is to portion out the olive oil before freezing it. 

For example, you could easily freeze your high-quality olive oil in an ice cube tray. Afterward, the process of bringing the olive oil back to temperature is as easy as removing a single tablespoon-sized cube at a time.  

Once stored in a freezer or refrigerator and then thawed out, the olive oil may look a little cloudy. Don’t worry! This change is entirely natural and will not affect the flavor 3.

Is Olive Oil Fine on the Counter?

Olive oil is fine on the counter and ideal if the temperature is between 55-60. The olive oil should be kept in a dark container and out of direct sunlight. If the olive oil is consumed within a reasonable time, the quality of the oil will remain. 

Most olive oils can last between 18-24 months once they’re bottled. Extra virgin olive oil can last between 12-18 months because they’re less processed. Always check the bottle for the expiration date or the bottled date 4.

It‘s important to note, rancid olive oil is unlikely to make you sick but begins breaking down as soon as it’s exposed to light and air. 

If you plan on storing olive oil on the counter, it may be a good idea to buy your olive oil in small containers. Doing so can guarantee you’ll use the container more quickly, saving the expense of having to dispose of lousy oil later 5.

If you cook for large families and regularly go through low-quality oil, rancid oil shouldn’t be a problem for you. For higher-quality oil, however, it still may be worth putting your olive oil away. Olive oil is best stored in a cool, dark cabinet with a closed-door in liquid form.

Does the Storage Container Matter?

The storage container matters, as light shortens the quality and shelf life of olive oil. Olive oil always tastes better when kept in a fully tinted container designed to block out all light.

You may have noticed the difference between those green, tinted containers at the store and colorful, oblong containers olive oil is kept in. If you hope to keep olive oil at its highest quality, you may consider investing in a fully tinted glass container for storage 6.

How Do I Know if My Olive Oil Is Bad?

As a general rule, oils and fruits both have long shelf lives. Olive oil, which derives from a fruit, will last you a long time as an extension of that.  

Olive oil is bad or rancid if it has a bitter flavor and has gone sour. 

When unopened, olive oil can last up to two years, untouched. The minute you twist open the lid, however, the process of oxidation begins. Store olive oil in a dark container to keep it fresh.

Oxidation, a result of exposure to light and oxygen, changes the flavor of the oil and alters its antioxidants.

Is rancid oil going to kill you? Rancid olive oil is not going to kill someone. Although it will taste acidic and bitter.

Bad oil will ruin whatever recipe you might be attempting. In addition, it won’t offer the same nutritional benefits so many enjoy with olive oil. 

Wrapping Up The Olive Oil

If you find yourself quickly going through olive oil, especially the heavily processed cooking-grade oil, there’s nothing to worry about keeping the oil stored at room temperature. 

Even with the process of oxidation, you’re unlikely to encounter rancid oil. 

However, if you’ve splurged on costly, high-quality oil or don’t often cook enough to warrant buying more every month, you may want to store your olive oil in the fridge.

Doing so will change the liquid to a less convenient solid, but it’ll be far more likely to keep the oil fresh and delicious.

Read Next – More Food Storage Articles!

The Complete Guide To Storing Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Can Extra Virgin Olive Oil Go Bad? What You Need To Know

Plastic Food Storage Bag Safety Guide

The Ultimate Guide To Preserving And Storing Tofu

 

Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. Michigan State University: Store olive oil to avoid spoilage and maintain nutritional quality[]
  2. California Olive Ranch: How To Store Extra Virgin Olive Oil: The Dos And Don’ts For Keeping It Fresh[]
  3. Olive Oil & Beyond: Olive Oil Storage & Handling[]
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The effects of packaging and storage temperature on the shelf-life of extra virgin olive oil[]
  5. Practical Gastroenterology: How to Buy, Store and Eat Olive Oil[]
  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of containers on the quality of Chemlali olive oil during storage[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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