Olive oil is a staple food in the regular consumption trends worldwide. It is known for its numerous health benefits and versatile culinary applications. However, it’s natural to wonder, “Does olive oil go bad?”
This article will discuss what affects olive oil’s freshness and shelf life and how to store it. We will also discuss how to identify expired olive oil and the importance of the harvest date. Additionally, we will delve into the different types of olive oil and how their shelf lives may vary.
Chemical and physical factors generally affect olive oil’s quality, freshness, taste, and aroma. In olive oil, we need to consider that all the factors that affect the quality are connected. All influencing factors must be considered instead of just one or a few to protect its quality.
All stages of olive oil production influence the quality of olive oil, from the initial processing to its arrival on store shelves and in kitchens.
Factors Affecting Fresh Olive Oil
To maintain fresh olive oil, it is crucial to understand the factors that can impact its quality. These factors are exposure to heat, light, and air. They are directly influencing the oxidation process in olive oil. Additionally, chemical substances such as free fatty acidity level, peroxide, and polyphenols can affect olive oil’s stability and shelf life.
Additionally, some other factors affect the olive oil quality indirectly. For example, the variety of the olive.
Olive Oil Oxidation
If olive oil is exposed to air, fatty acids become unwanted substances by breaking down. During this process, oxygen molecules react with the unsaturated fatty acids, creating free radicals and producing peroxides.
If the process continues further, peroxide breaks down further. The final product of broken peroxides are compounds such as aldehydes and ketones. These compounds harm olive oil’s taste, aroma, smell, and nutritional value.
The oxidation process is slow in some olive oils because of the existing antioxidants and phenolic compounds. These antioxidants and phenolic compounds neutralize free radicals and stabilize olive oil. Heat, light, and air are the factors that speed up oxidation and help to lose these antioxidants and phenolic compounds.
Variety of Olive
Different types of olives have individual qualities affecting the taste of the olive oil. The taste and aroma of the olive oil may be bitter, spicy, fruity, or fragrant. All these various aroma types depend highly on the type of olive used in extraction. However, more importantly, the kind of olive used also defines the antioxidant and vitamin content of the olive oil.
Some olives are better for making good quality olive oil than others. If the olive used in extraction has low antioxidant and vitamin levels, the olive oil becomes less durable against oxidation.
For example, partciular olives are better for hot and dry places, making fruity and complex oils. Other types are better for cooler and wetter areas, making milder oils. Choosing the correct type of olive variety can make a big difference in the quality of olive oil.
Shelf Life and Expiration Date of Olive Oil
The shelf life of olive oil varies depending on several factors, including its type, quality, and storage conditions. High-quality extra virgin olive oil can last up to 24 months if stored correctly. Virgin olive oil, on the other hand, has a slightly shorter shelf life of around 18 months.
Olive oil producers usually put a “Best Before Date” instead of an “Expiration Date” on their products. The “Best Before Date” indicated on the bottle is a consumer guideline. It represents the estimation of the olive oil manufacturer about the oil’s peak freshness.
This date is not an absolute indicator of quality. Because the oil may still be suitable for consumption beyond the expiration date if stored properly.
Lower-grade olive oil, such as refined olive oil, pure olive oil, or pomace olive oil, can last longer. Due to the production characteristics of these olive oils, they have more stable chemical compounds than extra virgin olive oil. During the refining process, the free fatty acids are balanced in these types of olive oils.
When working with a private label olive oil producer, decide on the ‘Best Before Date’ to be printed on the label before production. Otherwise, the producer will default to the standard 24-month time frame.
Storage Tips for Opened and Unopened Bottles
To extend the shelf life of your olive oil, follow these storage tips:
- Store it in a cool, dark place: Exposure to heat and light can cause the oil to oxidize, leading to a decline in quality. Keep the unopened bottle in a dark cabinet or pantry, away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
- Use a dark, airtight container: Transfer the oil to a dark glass or stainless steel container with an airtight seal once you open the bottle. In this way, you can minimize exposure to light and air.
- Monitor the harvest date: The harvest date is a better indicator of the oil’s freshness than the expiration date. Choose olive oil with a recent harvest date and aim to consume it within 24 months of that date.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to air: When using olive oil, pour out the amount needed. Then, promptly seal the container to minimize its exposure to air.
Identifying Expired Olive Oil
It’s essential to recognize the signs of expired olive oil to avoid using it in your dishes. Expired olive oil may exhibit the following characteristics:
- Off smell: A rancid or musty odor indicates that the oil has oxidized and should not be consumed.
- Altered taste: If the oil tastes stale, metallic, or has lost its fruity flavor, it is likely past its peak freshness.
- Color change: Expired olive oil may appear cloudy or have a greasy, thick consistency.
- Sediment: The residue at the bottom of the bottle is a sign that the oil is no longer fresh.
It is crucial to discard expired olive oil. Using it can negatively impact the taste of your dishes with negative taste, aroma, and smell.
Tips for Buying Fresh Olive Oil
- Look for a recent harvest date: The harvest date is a more reliable indicator of freshness than the expiration date. Opt for oils with a harvest date within the past year.
- Choose a dark glass or opaque container: This helps protect the oil from exposure to light, which can cause oxidation.
- Check for quality seals or certifications: Look for labels or certifications that indicate high-quality standards. For example, organic certification or FSSC food standard certification.
- Buy from a reputable source: Purchase your olive oil from a trusted brand. This way, you will know you’re purchasing a fresh, high-quality product.
In conclusion, yes, olive oil does go bad. Its shelf life depends on various factors, including storage conditions, exposure to heat, light, and air, and chemical composition. To ensure you enjoy fresh olive oil, pay attention to the harvest date, store it correctly in a cool, dark place, and monitor its smell, taste, and appearance for signs of spoilage.
At Artem Oliva olive oil factory, our quality team carefully monitors every step of the olive oil delivery process to ensure that only the highest quality oils make it to store shelves. We also provide guidelines for storing and using our olive oils to help you keep them fresh from purchase to consumption.
By following these guidelines, you can make the most of your olive oil’s flavorful and nutritional properties while minimizing the risk of using expired oil.