Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
Bottle shots courtesy of the producer
Like any food product, olive oil has a finite shelf life; quite extended if the product is kept under the right conditions, but quite short if not.
I use olive oil on a practically daily basis to poach vegetables (see article), to finish soups and grilled fish, for sautÚing and dressing salads.
I found that it is very important to keep extra virgin olive oil under the proper conditions. There are factors that actually speed up the aging process and turn the bottles rancid.
Olive oil, and especially extra virgin olive oil should be always kept in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat. Oil is usually sold in tin cans (for larger quantities) or dark green bottles for that reason. Temperature is also very important. Too high an ambient temperature would render your oil rancid before its time; but, too low temperatures are also not good for storage. Olive oil goes just as bad at low temperatures, so keep your oil away from the refrigerator. Another factor is tight closure of the container; air causes the oil to oxidize and go bad faster.
If extra virgin oil is properly stored, it will normally have a shelf life of a little over one year in a bottle or 1 1/2 years in a larger tin, properly stored. My bottles are usually finished in 3 to 4 months, so normally I don’t have to worry about their long term freshness and whenever I buy larger, 3 litter tins which a lot of good oil comes in, it is finished within less than a year.
The longest I have kept olive oil was when my cousin in Greece gave me a 5 gallon tin from the olive grove at her summer home on one of the Greek islands; it was pressed and fined 2 days before she gave it to me. I kept using it for almost 2 years without loss of taste and, early on, I gave a number of gift bottles to friends that loved the freshness and aroma.
In Italy, Extra Virgin Olive Oil is certified as such and has to be tested and meet or exceed certain requirements.
One of the olive oil purveyors whose oils I had recently a chance to taste and use is Capatriti.
We receive 16 oz samples of Extra Virgin and 100% Pure.
Both are blends of high quality olive oil from a number of countries; in the extra virgin case a blend is of first pressed oils from Argentina, Chile, Egypt, Greece, Spain, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey and in the 100% pure from a blend of Greek, Italian, Spanish, Tunisian and Turkish oils. Both styles are bottled in a facility in Hauppauge, NY.
We tasted them first and used them in salads, then cooked with them. They are both good for everyday use and are affordable. Yes, they are blends of oils from different oil varieties from different countries and that is done to create a specific “house profile” making sure that all the oils of this particular brand, whenever purchased, will retain the best specific flavor profile. Fresh, authentic extra virgin olive oil is bright with a peppery bite at the back of the throat. That occurs because of the polyphenols in the oil.
Ignorant internet trolls have labeled oil blends as “fake oil”. Don’t you believe it.
Fake olive oil is one that has other, much cheaper oils like vegetable oil or soy or peanut oil mixed in it to increase the producer's profit or is mixed with oil from low quality olives i.e. olives that are over ripe and have fallen off the tree on the ground or that have been badly damaged during transport to the mill but still labeled as superior olives. A fake olive oil will taste dull and greasy and have a waxy taste if it has begun to get rancid.
A high end blend is produced to retain the best taste characteristics of each olive variety in the blend, while less desirable characteristics are minimized. They are geared towards a larger consumer base.
I personally use olive oil from a single olive variety on salads and grilled fish and for finishing, and mostly blends for general cooking. High quality extra virgin oil should be used exclusively in salads or grilled fish.
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