'New oil, old wine.' The centuries-old popular wisdom suggests that olive oil, unlike wine, gets worse with age and that it is always better to consume it in the same year of production.
“The presence of antioxidant substances (phenolic compounds) in olive oil protects it from rancidity. Still, this beneficial action decreases over time, and this also depends on the methods of storage and conservation of the product.“
The presence of antioxidant substances (phenolic compounds) in olive oil protects it from rancidity. Still, this beneficial action decreases over time, and this also depends on the methods of storage and conservation of the product.
Regardless of the type of olive cultivar used, all extra virgin olive oils express the maximum in terms of taste, smell, and healthy virtues as soon as they are pressed and during the first year of life.
How to know the expiration of olive oil?
9 useful answers
1. Does olive oil have an expiration date?
The average life of an EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) oil is not very long: it should preferably be consumed within 12/18 months of extraction.
To remember: Olive Oil should preferably be consumed within 12/18 months of extraction.
2. DURATION AND MINIMUM SHELF LIFE.
It’s first necessary to make an important distinction between:
1. DURATION and 2. MINIMUM SHELF LIFE:
- DURATION refers to products that expire because they are perishable (e.g., milk) and must therefore be consumed within a certain period of time. Otherwise, they can deteriorate with the use of milk.
- Instead, MINIMUM SHELF LIFE means that even if consumed after the date indicated, these products do not pose a risk to human health.
To remember: “Olive Oil falls into the second category – Minimum Shelf Life – of products in that it is not intended to have a valid expiry date but a preferable date of consumption.
3. But what does the natural degradation of oil – and therefore its shelf life – depend on?
- Its STORAGE but, first of all,
- Its CONTENT IN ANTIOXIDANTS and, therefore,
- Its STARTING STOCK IN PHENOLIC COMPOUNDS. It DEPENDS mainly on the VARIETY from which the oil is extracted.
To remember: This means that particularly bitter and spicy oils (e.g. Moraiolo, which is one of the varieties grown with the highest polyphenols content), with good antioxidant content, will last significantly longer than other varieties.
You will experience:
1. oils that are still acceptable even after two or three years from their extraction (obviously if stored in the best condition) and
2. oils that have already degraded after a few months.
Therefore particularly bitter and spicy oils, e.g., Moraiolo, one of the varieties grown with the highest polyphenols content with good antioxidant content, will last significantly longer than other varieties.
4. Regulation (D.See Case C-39/92 Lgs ν Commission.(10)
Provides that the manufacturer or packaging’s minimum storage term shall be determined and labeled, under his direct responsibility, with the words: “To be consumed preferably within …”.
So it is clear that there is no standard for when oil should be consumed. Still, the packaging company is responsible for indicating the period within which, in his view, the product will maintain its chemical and organic characteristics.
5. Is it better to consume it within 18 or 12 months? That depends…
From a practical point of view, in the case of olive oils, the minimum shelf life shall be recorded in clear and orderly terms, the month and year.
Almost always for oil, a period of eighteen months from the packaging date is indicated as the minimum storage period.
But, considering the variety of starting points from which an oil is extracted and therefore its different content in antioxidants and the way in which the product is stored, unfortunately not always adequate, is it really reasonable to do so?
6. How many oils can keep their characteristics unchanged for even such long storage times?
For this reason, the International Oil Council (IOC) has issued a commercial standard (but it has never been transposed into law) that the minimum shelf life should not exceed 12 months from the date of packaging for commercial oils.
For the sake of transparency, the best guidance must be given to the consumers so that they are aware of the storage times by which the oil they purchase can maintain its chemical and organoleptic characteristics, it would therefore be essential that the producer/packager report, in conscience and without any superficiality, the preferable date of consumption according to the starting characteristics of the product.
They should assign the minimum shelf life of eighteen months only to fine and high-quality extra virgin olive oils, particularly bitter and spicy and with a high content of substances phenolic, and reducing the same term for all those oils with a lower starting supply of antioxidants.
The Mongiello Law (Law 9/2013, Article 7) establishes that the minimum storage term cannot exceed eighteen months from the date of bottling of the product.
To remember: there is no standard for what time period an oil should be consumed
7. What is the best container for storing extra virgin olive oil?
If we want to preserve extra virgin olive oil without altering its characteristics, we must keep it mainly AWAY FROM IIGHT, ODORS, AND TEMPERATURES (too high or too low).
Therefore, extra virgin olive oil should be stored in cool and dry places, away from heat sources, and it is a good practice always to close the bottle after use.
The best material for storing oil is undoubtedly glass, as long as the dark one is used.
In the retail sale, especially for the 5-liter packs, a tinplate can is used, that is a sheet of steel coated with a thin layer of tin; this type of packaging is good because it fully protects from light.
8. Oil in can or glass, how long does it last?
If well preserved in sealed containers, the extra virgin olive oil remains intact in its organoleptic characteristics (color, flavor, aroma, etc …) even for more than 15 months.
With time it loses its pigmentation, perfume and aroma. The aftertaste becomes more unpleasant.
9. Transfer the extra virgin olive oil from the can: is it useful?
The most common question among customers is: should extra virgin olive oil purchased in 5-liter cans be decanted? The answer is yes.
To keep the olive oil at its best, buying three or four glass bottles in a hardware store or household goods store and pouring it with a funnel is advisable.
In this way, you will be able to keep within reach only the bottle you are using at that time, without opening and closing your can, which would soon take in air and odors.
Clearly, in this case too, the rule of dark glass applies as the best container for storing oil, but transparent glass bottles will also do just fine as long as they are kept in the cupboard away from sources of light and heat.
Attention: it is important that the bottles are new or, in any case, well washed and free of odors that could contaminate your extra virgin olive oil.
Remember that it is a living product, highly contaminable. Therefore, the bottles used previously for wine or vinegar are banned! And the cap?
A law (dated 30 October 2014, n.161) has already come into force some years ago, unfortunately not yet fully respected, which prevents restaurateurs from using cruets and bottles without anti-topping caps.
Extra virgin olive oils have been equipped with an anti-topping cap for many years, also for sale to private consumers.
This form of protection prevents removing the cap and reusing the bottle: for a very high-quality extra virgin olive oil, it is preferable to start new bottles every time.