Olive oil shelf life is truly a important thing we need to be aware of. Every distributor may have a different answer for you in regards to how long they suggest olive oil to last for. As for Centra Foods, our oils have a shelf life of 2 years (or 24 months) which is based on the date of manufacturing.
Here’s more about what you need to know about the shelf life of olive oil and why it’s so variable.
The Purpose Or Reason For Shelf Life
Now you may find yourself asking, why is there a need for olive oil to have a shelf life to begin with?
The primary reason is because olive oil is a natural product, like most natural products in the food industry they are best used when fresh. This will bring out the natural flavors, as it is really just fresh fruit juice if you think about it.
Ways To Extend The Shelf Life To Its Full Timeline
Keep in mind that when you think about the two year timeline, remember that it’s from the date of manufacture — not when you purchased it.
Wondering what the date of manufacture is? You can find it on your Certificate of Analysis that comes with your bulk order. You can also find it on the label of some retail olive oil bottles.
The other important piece is that olive oil has to be properly stored to maintain that shelf life. If stored properly, it will stay fresh and keep well for that time. Stored improperly, olive oil can quickly go rancid or develop an off-flavor.
That being said, here are a few things that can help you keep that full 2 year shelf life:
1. Olive oil likes cool conditions. Keep olive oil slightly cooler than room temperature. You can even refrigerate it -- just keep in mind that it does turn into the consistency of butter. You’ll need to bring it back to room temperature before using it and potentially mix up any olive particles that may have settled.
2. Keep olive oil in a dark room, or store it in light-proof packaging (like drums or cardboard totes).
3. Avoid exposure to air. Packaging like the Bag-in-a-Box containers have a inner bag that collapses around the oil as you use it. The advantage to this packaging is that it keeps the air out as you use it. Smaller containers (like the 35 Lb. Containers) also help avoid exposure to air because you avoid opening a full container at one time and letting air into it as you use it like you might with the Plastic Caged 275 Gallon Totes.
By doing these steps, you will keep the oil from an increase of acidity (also called oxidation, which is caused by damaging light, heat and air) which will lower the quality of your oil.
The Difference In Refined Grades vs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
In regards to Virgin and Extra Virgin Olive Oil, these are both considered to be fresh fruit juices. As they have stronger flavors, they are more likely to degrade more than other of the refined olive oils. For these two oils you will want to use them quickly if you would like for your products to taste fresh.
Grades of oil like Pure, Olive Pomace, and Refined all undergo a process of high-heat refining. This refining process removes much of the flavor and color from the oil. When that oil begins to age, the color and flavor will start to lesson, but you will most likely not notice a huge difference from the original.
In conclusion, I want to note that this is what Centra Foods suggests for their shelf life of their olive oils.
If you purchase or work with a different supplier, please contact them for their recommendations on shelf life for their oils as it may be different from ours.