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Why you probably need to throw out your Olive Oil

If you’re like me and you love olive oil, you might be surprised by what you learn when you read Tom Mueller’s  Extra Virginity.  I know it changed my olive oil buying habits for good.  Olive oil is a perishable product, produced by squeezing the juice from green or ripe olives.  As such, it has a relatively short shelf life, even after being bottled.  Here’s what you need to look out for when buying and storing olive oil.

  • Heat – heat degrades olive oil, so don’t keep it near your stove, and don’t buy olive oil that is stored by heat or bright lights.
  • Light – light degrades the oil so do keep it in the cupboard – and more importantly do buy olive oil that is sold in a tin, a wrapped bottle, or a dark bottle – no clear bottles as they allow light in.
  • Air – oxidizes and spoils the oil prematurely – premature anything is probably not a good thing.  Keep it tightly closed.

Finally – look on the bottle for a harvest and bottle date.  Olive oil is best used within 1 year of harvest, and I love it when the grower puts the harvest date on the bottle so I know just how fresh the oil is.  I especially love the oils produced by California Olive Ranch, based in Chico, California.  Their varietals, like Arbequina and Arbosana are fantastic finishing oils, and I use their Miller’s Blend for all of my cooking.   Luckily the brand is getting a lot more well-known up here in the Northwest and our local PCC Natural Markets has just started carrying it.

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