Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is a versatile and nutritious ingredient that is a staple in homes around the world for its taste and health benefits. Originally produced in the Mediterranean, it is now a local product of the US, with olive orchards thriving in the Southern states. The founders of the Texas Hill Country Olive Company wanted to honor their Italian heritage and took advantage of the similar soil and weather conditions. Now, they produce high-quality, award-winning extra virgin Texas olive oil from locally-grown olives to bring you the taste of the Mediterranean with a lower carbon footprint.
Normally used in cooking – from steaks and stews to ice cream and cakes – this golden liquid adds a unique flavor to every dish. Due to its anti-oxidant and high monosaturated fat content, it also has several healthy properties. EVOO can prevent Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, obesity, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. But its use extends beyond the kitchen. Applied directly to the skin or used as an ingredient in creams and soaps, EVOO fights bacteria and cancer-causing cells, while keeping your skin moisturized. It’s no wonder Hippocrates called it “the great healer”!
However, for EVOO to maintain all its properties and provide its many benefits, it needs to be stored and handled correctly. Proper storage is essential to preserve its flavor, aroma, and nutritional value. When exposed to certain conditions, such as heat, light, and air, EVOO can deteriorate and become rancid. Not only will the taste change, but the health benefits won’t be there anymore either. To ensure that your Texas olive oil stays fresh and delicious, here is a comprehensive guide to storing this healthy, earthy-flavored super fat.
The biggest threat to the quality of EVOO is exposure to oxygen, which causes oxidation. Through prolonged oxygen exposure, the antioxidants in EVOO start to break down, causing it to lose its much-appreciated properties. After coming in contact with oxygen, polyphenols and tocopherols (two of the components in EVOO) oxidate first. These two components play a vital role in preserving not only the quality and health benefits, but also the flavor of the oil. For this reason, polyphenols will oxidate to protect the fatty acids. But you can’t rely on EVOO to “save itself” – there is a simple habit you can adopt to do your part.
When storing large quantities of EVOO, producers will often fill up the containers to the brim, to reduce the space available for air as much as possible. However, this is not practical at home, where you might use a bit of EVOO every day for cooking. Don’t worry, nobody expects you to constantly find the perfect size bottle for however much oil you have left. In fact, the bottle the olive oil came in is your best bet. Another thing you can do to avoid oxidation is to close the bottle as soon as you’re done using it. If you bought multiple bottles, try to open them one at a time if you know it will take you over a year to finish them.
While oxidation is mainly caused by exposure to oxygen, light and heat can cause it too. The ideal temperature for storing EVOO is between 57℉ and 65℉ – this is where it maintains all of its properties for the longest time. But don’t worry if the temperature in your kitchen is slightly outside of that range; most of the qualities of EVOO will still be safe. Under 53℉, solidification can start to occur and this process happens quicker the closer you are to the freezing point. High temperatures, on the other hand, are the ones that can cause EVOO to oxidize. Keep your bottles away from heat sources and direct sunlight to avoid this.
Exposing EVOO to light for long periods of time will cause it to lose its properties and even become inedible in as little as a couple of months. Light exposure triggers the chlorophyll component of EVOO, which destroys all the other components. High-quality oils from respectable producers will always come in dark bottles to help protect them from light. At home, you should also store the bottle in a dark cupboard and put it back when you are done using it. If you think your extra virgin texas olive oil has been exposed to light for too long, pour a few drops into a clear glass. An orange color is usually a sign of chlorophyll activation.
Tin cans are an excellent container for EVOO and especially those with an internal tin lining that protects the content and doesn’t trigger any chemical reactions within it. And while cans can be left out in the sun without fearing that the EVOO would go bad due to light exposure, they’re usually not very aesthetically pleasing or easy to handle. Many producers opt for glass bottles for their products – this is also the case for the Texas Hill Country Olive Company. It is recommended that you keep your EVOO in the bottle it came in as pouring it from one container to another means unnecessary exposure to both oxygen and light.