Have you ever wondered how long olive oil lasts? Truth is olive oil is not an ‘everlasting’ product and, unlike wine, time doesn’t improve its quality. However, when this product is preserved in suitable conditions, we can extend its shelf life.
Olive oil doesn’t expire
A product expiration date is determined by the date this product is no longer safe for consumption. From this point of view, olive oil doesn’t have an expiration date. In fact, it’s not a perishable product and, more importantly, it doesn’t become toxic as time passes by. Nevertheless, when olive oil ages it loses its many properties, i.e. its health benefits, no longer being that essential product in our kitchen.
On the other hand, as you may have observed on its lable, extra virgin olive oil does have a preferred consumption date, after which it starts losing its organoleptic properties. And among the most important deterioration processes are lipolysis or hydrolytic rancidity and oxidation or oxidative rancidity.
For how long does olive oil hold its properties?
As we said, its lable will tell you its preferred consumption date, which it’s usually a period between 1 and 2 years from the date it’s bottled up.
Factors that extend the olive oil shelf life
The amount of antioxidants, polyphenols and oleic acid originally contained in olive oil is what extends its shelf life. And since the extra virgin olive oil is the one offering the best levels of these elements, it’s also the most long-lasting one.
The variety of olives used to make the oil. Since some varieties are more stable, the period of consumption of theses ones can be lengthened.
The cultivation area, harvesting conditions, production, conservation mode, etc. can be other factors extending the olive oil shelf life.
Factors accelerating the organoleptic properties deterioration
Oxidation is the main responsible for the deterioration of olive oil’s organoleptic properties. And inevitably, this happens when the product has direct contact with oxygen. The oxidation process accelerates exponentially as the ambient temperature increases.
Light is the second factor that influences its deterioration, due to the photooxidation of the product. Photooxidation adds instability to olive oil.
How to properly store olive oil
To a large extent, most people with a long tradition of olive oil consumption know how to properly store this product. Popular wisdom has advised us to store the oil in sealed ceramic containers, dark and cool cupboards with constant temperatures.
Adequate storage conditions
Packaging process should be carried out in dark conditions, both due to the bottle type that contains the olive oil and the location where it happens.
In order to avoid photooxidation, the bottle must be opaque and it must additionally have a narrow throat that has to be made with a material that prevents, as far as possible, the contact of the product with the air.
The place chosen to store it must have a constant temperature. Therefore, the bottle of olive oil must be away from heat sources such as the kitchen stove, microwave oven, electrical appliances, etc. If possible, keep it at a temperature around 19ºC which is very similar to the temperature of the average house.
What is the olive oil shelf life?
Properly preserved, olive oil maintains its organoleptic properties until the preferred consumption date indicated on its label.
Should you store olive oil in the refrigerator?
It’s not convenient. It should be stored at a constant temperature of approximately 19ºC.
Is it possible to freeze olive oil?
Yes, it is possible, recovering all its properties when it’s thawed at room temperature.
How to store extra virgin olive oil?
In an opaque container, with a narrow neck, hermetically closed and protected from light.