Why You Are Probably Storing Your Olive Oil Wrong

Posted by Alexa Ketterling

storage conditions

The key to storing bulk oil is relatively simple. If you can think of a traditional wine cellar, then you’ve got it!

Take a moment, if you will, and close your eyes. Picture a cold, dark, dreary wine cellar with all those barrels stacked from floor to ceiling. Somewhat of a warm, happy feeling right? Well, we know that most wine cellars don't typically look like that anymore. But it paints a good picture!

Painting that picture for you was to help give you the telltale clues of how your olive oil would also like to be stored. Making a note of these (and then changing your storage conditions to abide by them) will help your oil maintain a pleasant freshness for as long as possible.


How To Store Your Olive Oil 


Keep It Cool 

Why did they choose a wine cellar anyway, and not an attic?

The cellar was chosen for an excellent reason: because it is cool. Cold, brisk, not freezing, but chilly. It is the ideal way to maintain a fresh product like olive oil too. The cellar is in no means necessarily refrigerated, but right on the brink.

Sources like Olive Oil Source recommends storing your oil at 50 degrees. Normally cool to room temperature (anywhere between 50 and 64 degrees) will do, but the lower on that range you can have it stored, the longer it will keep.

What you can do?: Be smart about where you are storing your oil. Try to keep it out of the sun and other high heat areas. If you can't keep it cool and you happen to have cold-storage in house, you can also store it in the fridge. However, it will solidify and you will need to re-liquify before using it again. That's ok, though!


Keep It Dark 

Old traditional cellars were usually dark and dreary looking.

But more important than what the people could see when they went down, was what the wine could "see" from inside its packaging. How much sunlight could it see through the wood? NONE!

Because wine is typically stored in closed wood barrels, no light could get through. Why wasn't wine stored in a big glass jug? The answer: it needs to avoid light at all costs. And that's what the wood material does — it keeps the light out.

What can you do?: Choose packaging that keeps light out. In the retail world, choose dark glass bottles to preserve your shelf life. In the bulk world, the best packaging would be drums or bag-in-a-box cardboard totes.


Keep It Away From Air 

Air contains oxygen, which slowly oxides (or eats away at the fresh quality of) both wine and olive oil.

Another perk of those wine barrels would be that they keep air out. If you used the wine from one of the barrels, the rest of the barrels in the cellar remain sealed, each tightly cupping the liquid inside.

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

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

What can you do?: Store your oil in packaging that helps keep out air. For example, if you use bag-in-a-box cardboard totes, a bag inside the tote holds 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 do not do that.

Alternatively, you can use smaller sizes like the 35 Lb. Containers, which come 60 to a pallet. Similar to the barrels, you are only opening one at a time, which allows the remaining inventory to be sealed and safe from air.


Why You Are Probably Doing It Wrong At Home 

Here is the thing: you are probably doing some of this stuff right, but not all of it. Just think

How many glass carafes of olive oil have you seen your friends use in their kitchen? Maybe even in your own kitchen. Yes, they look nice sitting out on your counter. But here is the thing: your kitchen gets warm. You have windows that let light in; if the bottle is clear glass, that light gets through. And as you use it, air gets into the container. These beautiful glass carafes, sadly to say, are slowly ruining your olive oil.

Even if you store it in your cabinet, is it a clear glass or a green one? Does it still let air in?

What can you do about it? Here’s what we recommend.


 What We Recommend For Home Storage 

If you have a basement or somewhere cool to store your oil, you can buy a wholesale volume of olive oil like a 3-liter bottle or 35 Lb. Container. Store it in the basement and refill a small glass bottle from it. We highly recommend a green (or some other colored) glass bottle as it helps block some of the light to keep the oil fresh. Store that bottle in your cabinet — or use the oil right out of a bag-in-a-box container.


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 is a great photo taken from a home experiment.

olive oil storing

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

The bottle on the left was selected, and a picture was taken. Then the oil was dumped out. It was refilled again from a 3-liter container that is stored in a cabinet. The photo on the right was taken right after the refill, 2 minutes after the picture on the left was taken.

Here is the kicker: the oil in both photos was filled using the same 3-liter container a few months apart: same manufacture date, same lot code, same oil. The difference in color comes down to how it was stored once it was put into the glass bottle.

Don't make this same mistake in your kitchen!

Topics: Olive Oil



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