Should premium quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) be stored in the refrigerator between prolonged periods of use?
I would say,... well yeah! This is a no-brainer when there is long periods between use (long period being one month or more between uses for example). This is especially pertinent to our new 2 liter bag-in-a-box which allows our customers to keep their olive oil fresh and use a cruet (olive oil bottle) for daily use.
I have read quite a few articles by leading research institutes regarding whether or not to refrigerate extra virgin olive oil. What I have discerned is that it can't hurt, and at a minimum it will ensure a longer quality shelf life. Premium quality extra virgin olive oil will coagulate in the refrigerator which quickly dissipates when the EVOO is left at room temperature for a half hour or forty minutes. And the coagulation does not change any of the flavor or health attributes of a quality EVOO. So no harm is committed to the EVOO when it is in the fridge, and it will ensure a longer quality life span. No brainer, ....right?
Misguided Olive Oil Stores?
I believe (and this is my opinion), the confusion regarding whether or not to refrigerate has been the result of information provided by olive oil stores in the United States (where many of the products are infused with flavor and such). Once pure EVOO is infused with water or flavorings, etc, the shelf life drops significantly and in the refrigerator, the infused elements may separate from the extra virgin olive oil. So rather than confuse their customers with, ... "yes you can refrigerate pure EVOO, but please don't refrigerate our products", ... olive oil stores instead recommend that customers do not refrigerate any of their EVOO products.
Experts agree that the ideal temperature to store premium extra virgin olive oils is 57 degrees Fahrenheit (the temperature of a wine cellar). For all of us that don't have wine cellars, basic care of EVOO is to store it away from direct sunlight and away from heat sources such as a stove top. That is a minimum.
Olives are classified as a fruit. So technically, extra virgin olive oil is a fruit juice. To obtain premium quality, molinos (olive mills) put much effort and care into the harvest, processing and storage. For example, top notch molinos work hard to shorten the time between the moment the olive is harvested from the tree, to the moment the extra virgin olive oil is stored in temperature controlled vats. The goal is crush the olives within 4 hours of picking (roughly). Olives sitting around lose their freshness. Crushing fresh olives produces a more superior product. If you want to learn more about the production of quality EVOO, read our blog post 12 Factors that Influence the Quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Pure, top quality extra virgin olive oil does not contain any other elements - no water, no other oils, no artificial flavors, no nothing. Just extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). This type of product benefits from being stored in a refrigerator between uses.
For our GringoCool De Sevilla 2 liter bag-in-a-box we recommend that our customers store the bag-in-a-box in the refrigerator between refills of the cruet. When it is necessary to refill the cruet, we recommend removing the baginbox from the refrigerator and letting it rest at room temperature for 40 minutes, before refilling the cruet. Giving the box a good shake after the 40 minutes and before re-filling the cruet cannot hurt anything either.
So that is my story and I am sticking to it. Questions, opinions and comments are almost always appreciated.
And now the Plug!
Check out our premium quality extra virgin olive oil now offered in a two liter baginbox. And while you are at it, check out our lovely hand painted 500ml porcelain cruets. A perfect combination to reduce plastic and glass waste and enjoy tasty, healthy, premium quality extra virgin olive oil. Click on the image below to buy!