For those that love cooking with olive oil (and that will be you soon, if it’s not already), keeping a bottle within reach of the cooktop is a must. But it shouldn’t be within too easy reach.
Over the last few millennia, we’ve discovered that olive oil as two principal enemies — heat and light. Humanity found this out through trial and error, but modern science now tells us why.
The culprit is oxidation. Throughout the production process, reputable olive oil makers control exposure to the open air and to heat. This is done by rapid processing in sealed production lines, storage in sealed tanks, and a tightly tuned bottling process. All the facilities must be easy to sterilize, and — in an ideal situation, as at Zucchi’s facilities — inert gasses are used to keep oxygen from coming in contact with the oil during storage.
Light is another issue, since olive oil still contains chlorophyll, the chemical that allows plants to produce energy from sunlight. If exposed to light, olive’s energy creation process begins again, and gives off oxygen as a byproduct. That’s why olive oil is kept in the dark during processing.
Once you’ve picked out your favorite oil in the store, the responsibility is all yours. Here are a few pointers:
Keep it in the dark. The bottles are typically green glass, which keeps out a great deal of light, but you’ll want to make sure you never store your oil in direct sunlight.
Keep it cool. Don’t store your olive oil next to an oven or on the stovetop; the heat from them will rapidly start breaking down the oil, taking away its best flavors and increasing the likelihood of spoilage.
But not too cool. The refrigerator is no place for olive oil. It will turn cloudy and stiffen up if allowed to get too cold, and though it’s still usable once “thawed,” it becomes much less stable. Ideally, olive oil should be kept between 54° and 64° F.
Tighten it up. When you’re constantly reaching for the olive oil (and you will be) it’s easy to forget to tighten the lid. But keeping it in a sealable container that’s tightly closed will make for a more flavorful olive oil that stays fresh longer.
We worked very hard getting this oil to you in a perfect condition, and we thank you for keeping it that way.