This liquid gold needs more TLC than you think.

By Maki Yazawa
June 05, 2020
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Used as the foundation for just about every recipe we make, olive oil is undeniably one of the most important pantry staples in every kitchen. However, this liquid gold is a lot more delicate than you may think and requires special care and consideration before you even get cooking. Here are the essential things you need to know to properly handle, care, and use olive oil to avoid any slip ups in the kitchen. 

1

Your olive oil will be in the best condition when you avoid storing it near heat, oxygen, light, and age, also known as “HOLA.” These natural enemies of olive oil can quickly turn your bottle rancid before you even get the chance to use it. You should always make sure to store your oil in an airtight, dark container in a cool area in your kitchen to prevent oxidation and consume it before the expiration date. If you like to transfer your oil to a dispenser, make sure that it's airtight and dark in color to avoid spoilage, too.

2

In order to ensure you don’t waste your expensive bottle of oil, make sure to read the labels and check for the harvest and expiration date. You also may want to check labels to see if the oil is, in fact, pure olive oil, or if it is mixed with any other added ingredients. Consider purchasing extra virgin olive oil, which is the least processed or refined and is considered highest quality. Lastly, you should check where the oil was harvested, which can define the flavor profile. A few of the best producers of olive oil are Italy, Greece, Spain, and California.

3

Though there are contrasting beliefs on the stability of olive oil when heated, it's generally safe for most at-home cooking methods. The smoke point for olive oil ranges between 320 to 470ºF depending on the type of olive oil used (refined vs. extra virgin, for instance). However, standard domestic cooking temperatures can be around 248ºF for pan frying, 320-356ºF for deep frying, and 392ºF for oven baking, which fall within the smoke point range for most olive oils. In order to avoid burning your oil, be mindful of the specific smoke point for the type of olive oil and cooking method you are using to avoid any mishaps.

4

Unlike a bottle of wine, olive oil does not improve with age. Rather, you should keep a watchful eye on the expiration date on the bottle and consume it within two to three months after opening. If properly handled, most olive oils will last about two years from the time it was bottled. Unfiltered olive oil, unlike EVOO, has not been filtered to remove olive particles and tends to expire even quicker.  

5

The next time you’re in the market for a new bottle of olive oil, don’t let the color of the oil influence you. There is a common misconception that the greener the color, the better the quality of the oil, but color is actually not a true indicator of the aroma or flavor. So much so, professional olive oil tasters use a blue glass when taste-testing to prevent the color from swaying their judgment. Depending on the olive variety, where it was grown, and the harvesting method, olive oil can range from light yellow to dark green in color, and vastly differ in taste. 

6

Though it's an essential pantry item for both seasoned and novice cooks, olive oil is great for more than just cooking. Pamper your hair, skin, and nails with the naturally moisturizing capabilities of olive oil and dab a bit on your hands to replenish dry skin or use on your hair as a hydrating moisture mask. You can also use a soft microfiber towel and a few drops of olive oil to buff away water marks and scratches from stainless steel surfaces! 

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