How To Store Olive Oil [... And Why You're Probably Doing It Wrong]

Posted by Hannah Broaddus

How To Store Bulk Olive Oil Correctly [...And Why You're Probably Doing It Wrong At Home]What's the key to storing bulk olive oil correctly?  It's pretty simple-- you can just think of a traditional wine cellar and you'll have it.  

Close your eyes.  Picture that dreary, dark, cold wine cellar with all those barrels stacked floor to ceiling.  Somewhat romantic right?  Okay, we know most wine cellars don't really look like that anymore.  But it paints a good picture!

That picture has all the tell tale clues of how your olive oil also wants to be stored.  Making note of them (and then changing your storage conditions to abide by them) will help your oil maintain its freshness for as long as possible. surface

How To Store Olive Oil

So what are those key factors to storing your oil right?

1.  Keep It Cool

Why did they choose a wine cellar anyway, and not an attic??  They're both empty space you can use for storage!  

They cellar was chosen for a very good reason... Because it's cool.  Cold.  Brisk.  Not freezing, but definitely chilly.  It's the ideal way to maintain a fresh product like olive oil (and of course, wine, for that matter).  The cellar is not necessarily fridgerated, but right on the brink. 

The Olive Oil Source recommends storing your oil at 50º.  Normally anywhere between 50º and 64º will do, but cooler on that range you can have it stored, the longer it will keep.

What you can do about it:  Be smart about where you store your olive oil.  You can actually store it in a fridge, though it will probably solidify.  That's okay though!  Otherwise, keep a larger container of oil down in your basement, and refill a small bottle that you use in your kitchen on a daily basis.

2.  Keep It Dark

Yes, old traditional cellars were normally dark and dreary looking.  

But more importantly than what the people could see when they went down there was what the wine could "see" from inside it's packaging.  How much sunlight could it see through the wood?  None!

Because wine was typically stored in closed wood barrels, no light could get through.  Why wasn't wine stored in big glass jugs?  The answer: avoid light at all costs!  And that's what the wood material does.  It keeps the light out.  

What you can do about it:  Choose packaging that keeps out light.  In the bulk world, this is is most of them, so you should be safe.  But the best ones are the drums and the Bag in a Box totes.  If you're buying for your home, look for anything that isn't clear glass.

3.  Keep It Away From Air

Another perk of those barrels?  They keep the air out.  If you used the wine from 2 of them, the rest of the barrels in the cellar remain sealed, each tightly cupping the liquid inside.

Think of this in comparison to the alternative.  Let's pretend that the wine is stored in a big huge vat instead.  Each time you take some wine out, the level drops down a bit and oxygen sits in the top of that vat in place of the liquid.  That air is touching the surface of the remaining wine in the vat, and is slowing eating away at the quality of the product.

The same applies to olive oil.  That's why many olive oil manufacturers will pump their storage tanks full with nitrogen at the top to remove oxygen and slow down the oxidation process.

What you can do about it:  Store your olive oil in a packaging that helps keep out the air.  For example, the bag in a box totes use a bag to hold the oil.  As you use it, that bag collapses around the oil and protects it from the air.  Containers like the drums and IBC totes don't do that.

In your home kitchen, look for Bag in a Box containers.

Why You're Probably Doing It Wrong At Home

How To Store Bulk Olive Oil Correctly

The bottom line is... you're probably doing some of this stuff right, but not all of it.  Just think...

How many glass caraffes of olive oil have you seen your friends use in their kitchen?  Maybe you even use one!  Don't they look nice sitting out on your counter?

Yes, they do but you're also slowly ruining your olive oil.  You kitchen gets warm.  You have windows that let light in.  The bottle is glass so that light gets through.  And as you use it, air gets into that bottle.  

Even if you store it in your cabinet-- is it being stored in a clear glass bottle or a green one?  Does it let air in?

Goodness!  What to do, what to do?

Here's What We Recommend For Home Storage

You can buy a wholesale volume of olive oil (like a 3 Liter container or 35 Lb. Container).  Store it down in your basement and refill a small (preferrably green) glass bottle from it.  Store that bottle in your cabinet.  Or, use the oil right out of a bag in a box container.  

It's as close as you can get to perfect olive oil storage at home!

What Happens If You Store Olive Oil Wrong?

Storage conditions can make or break the quality of your olive oil.  Long story short, if it's stored wrong, it goes rancid far sooner than it should.  For example, here's a great photo that I took from a home experiment.


The photo on the left is Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil that has been sitting out on my counter, in my bright kitchen for about 2 months.  My kitchen has a lot of light, and it's also pretty warm.  So here was my experiment:

I selected the bottle on the left, took a photo and then dumped the oil out.  Then I refilled the bottle again from the 3 Liter Container that I store my oil in, which is kept in my cabinet.  The photo on the right is taken right after that refill, about 2 minues after the photo on the left was taken.

But here's the kicker...  The oil in both photos was filled using the same 3 Liter Container.  Same manufacture date, same lot code, same exact oil.  The difference in color really just comes down to how it was stored once it was put into the glass bottle.

Don't make this mistake in your own kitchen!

Topics: Olive Oil



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