The Biggest Mistake You’re Making with Your “Good” Olive Oil

published Mar 4, 2020
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If, at this very moment, you’re hoarding a bottle of olive oil in your pantry, only breaking it out once in a while for a drizzle here and a drip there, I kindly ask you to use it less sparingly. Yes, I’m talking to you. You over there, who’s currently sitting on a bottle of “Good Olive Oil,” waiting for just the right moment to make the world’s finest salad dressing. But here’s the thing about olive oil: Unlike your finest bottles of vino, olive oil does not get better with age.

Olive oil is fresh-pressed juice from olives that are harvested every year. It’s best when it’s freshest and should be consumed as quickly after bottling as possible.

Credit: Lauren Masur

I confirmed this lesson (and will tell anyone who will listen about it!) after witnessing the olive-oil making process firsthand, “from pluck to pour,” at the Bono olive oil factory in Italy: the facility that produces 70 percent of all of the olive oil that comes from Sicily.

I’m not going to say that this experience turned me into an olive oil snob per se, but after seeing the olives get manually plucked off of their trees, placed in bins, and carted to the factory where the olives are then washed, sorted, pressed, and bottled, I developed a newfound appreciation for the stuff. Just look at how beautiful it is straight out of the spout. Would you let this liquid gold go to waste? Because that’s what happens when you save the good stuff.

Credit: Lauren Masur

How Long Does Olive Oil Last?

Olive oil is generally good for up to two years after it was bottled, but once it’s been opened, it should be used within a few months. You should also pay attention to how and where you’re storing it. Olive oil needs to be kept away from excessive heat and light, as those two things can turn your olive oil rancid pretty quickly.

Now I look at olive oil like I would apple cider which is also made with fruit that has been freshly picked from an orchard then pressed and bottled. (Of course, pantry-stable olive oil has a longer shelf life than refrigerated apple cider, but my point is that it expires.)

The takeaway: Go ahead and use a big glug of olive oil again and again and again.

How often do you go through a bottle of olive oil? Let us know in the comments below.