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There are many things that keep Americans up at night — life, death, taxes, the job, the mortgage, the car payment, the marriage, the college fund, the retirement fund, the stock portfolio, and of course, whether the garage door is shut — but whether their olive oil has gone bad probably isn't one of them. But you should care about that. Here's why.
First of all, we should clarify that this discussion applies to extra-virgin olive oil, since refined olive oils, also marketed as "pure," "light," or "light-tasting," have a significantly extended shelf life. Extra-virgin olive oil actually has an official definition drafted by the International Olive Council, an intergovernmental organization that sets voluntary standards for olive oil classification and testing, among other things. Their definition states that an extra-virgin olive oil cannot have a free acidity of more than 0.8 percent by weight, must have fruitiness, and must be free from any faults. A fault is a major flaw that would legally prevent an olive oil from being labeled and sold as extra-virgin. There are five main technical faults, one of which is rancidity.
That extra-virgin olive oil will go rancid may not seem like news to anyone who's ever unwrapped an old block of butter, opened up a long-forgotten tub of lard, or unscrewed the cap on a bottle of vegetable oil that's been sitting around too long and experienced a major whiff of funk.
However, when it comes to extra-virgin olive oil, rancidity is a bit different. That's because extra-virgin olive oil has properties that separate it from other types of fat and cooking oil. The best way to explain this is with an analogy.
One can draw many parallels between extra-virgin olive oil and wine — the production since antiquity; the long and contentious histories involving fraud, conspiracy, and war; the historical use in religious rites; the prominent role in Mediterranean cuisine; the frequently lauded health benefits cited in study after study; the origin from fruit with specific varietals affected by climate and region; the general lack of understanding among the public; and the evaluation of their aromas and flavors by connoisseurs or snobs in fairly similar terms — that is to say, terms that lead to the public's confusion and diffidence. But one area where extra-virgin olive oil differs from wine is this: Unlike wine, it does not improve with age.
That's because extra-virgin olive oil derives many of its unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties from a class of compounds known as polyphenols. Polyphenols are volatile, meaning that they break down over time as they are exposed to air, light, and heat. So as an extra-virgin olive oil sits on the shelf or in the pantry, its polyphenol count and, consequently, its health benefits, vaporize into thin air. Olive oil tasters frequently refer to this process as the "tiring" of olive oil — in contrast, for example, to the aging of wine, a desirable process.
Eventually, the count reaches zero, and the oil, at that point, is technically considered rancid and no longer has any antioxidant or anti-inflammatory properties. The oil can no longer be called extra-virgin.
That's useful if you have a lab in your kitchen. But in case you don't, there is another way to tell without any fancy lab equipment. All you need are two tools that won't cost you a dime and which people sometimes forget to use when figuring out when a food has gone bad.
We're talking about your nose and mouth, folks. That's right — with a little concentration, just about anyone can tell if extra-virgin olive oil has gone rancid. That's because the aroma and flavor will have changed significantly since bottling.
How so, exactly? A rancid extra-virgin olive oil will generally have a faintly sweet aroma, which one can describe as being similar to Elmer's glue. (If it is particularly strong, the oil has a different, more damning technical fault —it is considered "musty," "humid," or "earthy," classifications which, in an ideal world, would prevent an olive oil from reaching store shelves with an extra-virgin label in the first place.) This isn't a pleasant sweetness — it's sickly, like fermenting fruit or fruit that’s just gone completely bad. The stronger the smell, the more rancid the oil is.
It's also worth noting that when doing the smell test, the oil should be poured out into a cup first. That's because olive oils are sold with plastic pourers that accumulate small amounts of oil. That oil is exposed to more air than the oil inside the bottle, so sniffing it straight from the opening wouldn't exactly be giving the oil a fair shake; the contents inside the bottle are often perfectly fine even if the stuff on the lip of the pourer is bad.
But smell isn't (and shouldn't) be the only test, at least for beginners. Novice sniffers may end up confusing a rancid oil with one that is perfectly fresh. That's because some oils will have a naturally ripe or sweet fruitiness on the nose, depending on a number of factors, including the varietal or blend of varietals, where it was grown, and what the soil and climate were like. But there is a difference between a ripe fruit aroma and a rancid one.
So, to confirm rancidity, it's important to also taste the oil. Warm the cup in your hand to get the oil to room temperature, slurp about a tablespoon of oil into your mouth without swallowing or exhaling, keep slurping, breathe out, and if it's completely tasteless, it's rancid.
This is due to the fact that one of the first flavor characteristics to go as an oil tires is fruitiness, says Simon Field, instructor for Savantes, a certification program for olive oil producers and retailers. Pepperiness and bitterness, the other two main flavor characteristics often (but not always) present in an extra-virgin olive oil, come from polyphenols and will also have faded completely.
At this point, you may be asking, "But why don't we just go by the expiration date?" While major manufacturers of supermarket extra-virgin olive oil will sometimes put a use-by date, it is, for all intents and purposes, an estimate. Your oil's mileage will vary, depending on the way the olive oil was processed, the way it was stored during transport and at the store, and the way you store it at home. For example, oils that have been sitting in shipping containers baking in the hot sun while waiting to be distributed to stores, or that have been sitting under harsh lighting on store shelves with little turnover, probably won't live up to their projected use-by dates. Sell-by dates are even less informative; how much time you have to use the product after the sell-by date isn't a hard-and-fast rule. The same goes for bottling dates. And smaller producers may not even put any sort of date at all.
So, it's probably best to go with your senses. The average life span of an extra-virgin olive oil isn't terribly long, at least when looking at supermarket extra-virgin olive oils, says Gabriel Estevez, Ph.D., chief operating officer of Sovena, a Portuguese food group formerly known as East Coast Olive Oil, the largest importer of olive oil and bottler of private labels for America. Supermarket extra-virgin olive oils are generally created from a blend of varietals, and manufacturers do their best to create a blend with maximum shelf life. However, the average life of such oils is about 18 months from crushing of the olives, says Estevez. And since it takes about six to 12 months to go from crushing to bottling, an olive oil that has reached supermarket shelves has at best six to 12 months of shelf life. And that doesn't account for shipping time and the store's rate of turnover, which can significantly impact the shelf life of an oil.
So the next time you are doing a little spring cleaning of the pantry, take a careful look at your extra-virgin olive oil. Because just like everything else, it's got a shelf life, too.
Click here to see What to Do with Old Olive Oil
Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.
Is Eating Rancid Oil Bad for Your Health?
We all know that oil that has gone bad smells rancid and tastes stale, but what are the health effects of using rancid vegetable oil in cooking? Does spoiled oil contain some toxic substances that makes eating food containing rancid oil dangerous, or is it just unpleasant to the palate? HealWithFood.org embarked on a mission to find out whether rancid oil is really bad for you. Here are the results &ndash three interesting facts you should know about rancid oils in relation to human health:
Why does olive oil go bad?
The short answer is that light, heat, and oxygen exposure cause olive oil to go bad. These factors cause oil to deteriorate quickly, regardless if it is sitting in your kitchen, on a store shelf, or in a distributors warehouse.
According to the Olive Oil Times, temperature exposure causes the fresh flavors and aromas of an oil to change quickly into unpleasant ones. Heat causes free fatty acids to rise quickly and rancidity to develop.
The more oxygen and light your oil is exposed to, the more rapidly the complex flavors will deteriorate and become rancid. Most manufacturers use dark glass packaging to help slow this process.
It is impossible to avoid light, heat and oxygen exposure in the real world. And the longer you hold onto a bottle of oil the more it will break down. There’s really nothing you can do to stop this process from happening over time, but there are a few simple steps you can take to pick a fresh bottle, use it before it deteriorates, and identify when it has gone bad.
An easy way to portion your olive oil
One of my favorite tricks I've learned from registered dietitians when it comes to cooking with olive oil is using a spray bottle instead. Spraying your vegetables or meats with olive oil can easily control the amount of oil you use, and will significantly cut the number of calories.
Spray olive oil bottles are easy to buy at the grocery store, but if you're one who likes to reduce the amount of waste you use in the kitchen, a reusable spray oil bottle may be helpful to have on hand.
Now some recipes may tell you to add olive oil to a pan, and that's okay! Instead of just pouring the oil in, grab your measuring spoons and portion out the amount of olive oil you use. That way you can still enjoy your delicious meal without all of those sneakily added calories!
Is Your Olive Oil Authentic Or Some Rancid Impostor?
I prefer my fur faux but my olive oil? Authentic please! My smart, in-the-know friend, Jamie, alerted me of this sham last year so I wrote about it then. I was appalled by what I uncovered and have since learned more about the situation. Many brands are in fact not 100% pure olive oil. Like most people, I choose olive oil for its heart healthy benefits. I was pissed off at the thought of unwittingly serving my family trans fats and unhealthy rancid oils.
Consumers have been duped. Various investigations have exposed deceptive practices where products adulterated with oils includingseed, hazelnut, rancid vegetable oils such as canola, soy or cotton seed were sold to some of the largest Italian producers who turned around and sold it as pure olive oil. Others sold as extra virgin olive oil are in fact lesser quality and not extra virgin at all. Not only does this potentially mean the oil we are buying is not healthy, it could pose serious risks for individuals with certain food allergies.
Imported olive oil is not routinely tested by the FDA, besides, there are no simple testing methods. Your best bet is to go with certified organic olive oil. Dr. Andrew Weil advises looking for the International Olive Oil Council [IOOC] certification on the label when buying imported oils. The California Olive Oil Council [COOC] certifies purity of oil produced in California.
So, how can you tell if your olive oil is genuine? Put it in the refrigerator. If after a while the oil turns hard, you likely have the real deal, if it doesn’t, time to shop. Needless to say, I was relieved that mine, Trader Joe’s Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, solidified! This method is not entirely conclusive but it’s the best at-home test I came across in my research. Cheeseslave tested a few and found that Adam’s Ranch was authentic. Give your evoo the fridge test and let me know if it passed!
64 Certified Pure Olive Oils
Some consumers are concerned about the rumors that are circulating about fake olive oil. For consumers seeking extra reassurance, here is a list of the olive oils that are enrolled in the North American Olive Oil Association's (NAOOA's) About Olive Oil Quality Seal program for random testing and certification of both purity and quality.
The About Olive Oil Quality Seal program is the nation's largest and most complete olive oil testing and certification program. We purchase olive oil from supermarkets in the USA and Canada and test multiple times per year for adherence to the standards set by the International Olive Council (IOC). The olive oils listed below are certified for both purity and quality.
Our list of certified olive oil changes on a regular basis. Please refer to our master list of certified olive oils for an up to date list.
Brands that are part of the About Olive Oil Quality Seal program may bear this mark in either black and white or color.
As of September 1, 2020, the list is as follows:
- Simply Nature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Carlini Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Carlini Olive Oil
- Colavita Premium Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Colavita Mediterranean Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Colavita 100% Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Premium World Selection
- Colavita 100% Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Premium World Selection
- Colavita Organic Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Colavita 100% Pure Olive Oil
- Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil Delicato
- Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil Robusto
- Filippo Berio Light-Tasting Olive Oil
- Filippo Berio Olive Oil
- Filippo Berio Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Filippo Berio 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Filippo Berio California Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Flor do Alentejo USA LLC
- Goya Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Goya Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Goya Unico Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Goya Puro Olive Oil
- Goya Light-Tasting Olive Oil
Napa Valley Naturals
- Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil Robust
- Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil Smooth
- Pompeian Classic Olive Oil
- Pompeian Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pompeian Light-Tasting Olive Oil
- Pompeian 100% Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pompeian Familia Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pompeian Familia Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pompeian November Moon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sprouts Extra Virgin Olive Oil of Italy
- Sprouts Extra Virgin Olive Oil of Greece
- Sprouts Extra Virgin Olive Oil of Spain
- Sprouts Farmers Market Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Whole Foods Market Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Sicily
- Whole Foods Market Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Seville
- Whole Foods Market Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Greece
- Whole Foods Market Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Portugal
- 365 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 365 Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 365 Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 365 Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 365 Unfiltered Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 365 Mediterranean Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 365 Organic Mediterranean Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil 365 Everyday Value Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
How does the AboutOliveOil.org Seal Program work?
Participants in the AboutOliveOil.org Seal Program must agree to have us randomly test their products, which we sample from store shelves, and submit the samples to certified independent laboratories. The oils are tested to ensure that they meet or exceed the standards set by the International Olive Council. Participants pay a fee to participate in the program and license the AboutOliveOil.org Seal for use on their packaging. It does not mean that we test every bottle or even every lot. However, the penalty for getting caught is severe. If we can confirm that a product we have tested is not authentic, the company is required to conduct a recall of the licensed products from all stores across North America.
Do you test all brands?
No. We only test bottles of companies that agree to take part in the program. The program is currently only open to members of the North American Olive Oil Association.
Does the fact that an olive oil does not have your seal mean that the olive oil is not authentic?
The answer is emphatically no, for a number of reasons. First, we only test bottles of companies that agree to take part in the program and pay the licensing fee.
More importantly, notwithstanding what you may have read elsewhere, scientists from the FDA have concluded in a study published in 2015 that the risk of purchasing a bottle of adulterated EVOO is low (less than 5%). The scientists randomly sampled 88 bottles of EVOO that they purchased from supermarkets and online stores, and did not find a single instance of adulteration. This may not be what you read on the internet (even from sources you may otherwise believe to be reliable), but you have to ask yourself whether you are more comfortable believing a published report from FDA scientists, or some journalist that is trying to sell a story. We invite you to read more stories related to olive oil quality on our blog.
So even if a product does not have a certification seal, you should feel confident you are getting authentic products, especially if you buy from a retailer that you trust, select a brand that you know, and/or do not pay a price that is “too-good-to-be-true.”
The brand I usually buy does not have your seal…when will you test it?
We only test brands that agree to be part of our program. Please inquire with the brand and suggest that they might join.
Is out of date olive oil bad for you?
Rancid olive oil won’t make you sick. However, it may ruin your recipe by giving the dish a strange flavour.
As well as this, olive oil is often praised for its many health benefits, but it loses those healthy antioxidant properties if it’s gone off.
This is the direct result of oxidation, where chemical reactions break down the oil’s antioxidants.
No, olive oil which is out of date probably won’t give you the same nutritional boost, but it won’t make you ill and isn’t necessarily bad for you.
6 Things You Should Always Avoid Doing With Your Olive Oil
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.
Your olive oil will be in the best condition when you avoid storing it near heat, oxygen, light, and age, also known as &ldquoHOLA.&rdquo 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.
In order to ensure you don&rsquot 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.
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.
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.
Can you get sick from using rancid olive oil by mistake?
FiveThirtyEight claims a big issue facing the olive oil community is that consumers do not really know what olive oil is supposed to taste like. They describe good flavors in olive oil, like pungent and fruity, as being often confused with bad flavors, like fusty and musty.
They claim the U.S. is a dumping ground for bad olive oil, because less-than-reputable producers know that many consumers in the U.S. market will not be able to tell the difference, and that in blind taste tests, many prefer low-quality olive oil over high-quality. They state that the reasons for this are twofold — that rancid olive oil is less bitter than fresh olive oil, and that "bad" olive oil is what many U.S. consumers grew up using, so it is what they believe olive oil should taste like.
While rancid oil does not smell or taste great, the good news is it will most likely not make you sick, according to Olive Oil Times.
Even if your olive oil is past its prime, you can still use it in a variety of different ways. Expired olive oil makes a great moisturizer for dry skin. It is rich in vitamin E, vitamin K and various antioxidants that provide the skin with anti-aging benefits.
You can use olive oil as a base for an exfoliating skin scrub to remove dead skin cells. Simply make a paste with old coffee grounds, sea salt, and sugar and rub it over your body. You can also use olive oil as a makeup remover, a replacement for shaving cream, and to boost hair health.
It’s just so versatile you’ll never look at a bottle of olive oil the same way again…