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Storing extra virgin olive oil

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I've decided to get my extra virgin olive oil from a retailer abroad, and will have to buy 6-12 bottles at once. I was wondering what would be the best way to store the olive oil - with regard to oxidation and retaining phenolic content amongst others.

 

Obviously the initial pressing/storage (oxygen, moisture, fatty acid profile etc) is of great importance with regard to the quality of the evoo, but in addition I'm wondering how to store the oil myself until I will use it (at which temperature, amongst others). It comes in dark colored glass bottles. The olives were harvested Oct. 2015. However, this upcoming year I intend to order the evoo instantly in October and store it myself, as such. Thanks for any input!

Edited by AEN

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Hello Anne - welcome back to the CR forums!

 

 I was wondering what would be the best way to store the olive oil - with regard to oxidation and retaining phenolic content amongst others.

 

Except for the bottle you are currently using (probably best kept in the fridge), evidence shared by Michael and Zeta in this thread and elsewhere suggests keeping your EVOO in the freezer is the best option for long-term storage.

 

I think people would be curious what the "retailer abroad" you are purchasing from, and why you've chosen them relative to a reputable US retailer, like the Amphora EVOO from Veronica Foods? They are very popular with CR folks around here. Personally I prefer to get my fats from nuts and seeds, but high quality EVOO has a lot to be said for it as well!

 

--Dean

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Hello Anne - welcome back to the CR forums!

 

 I was wondering what would be the best way to store the olive oil - with regard to oxidation and retaining phenolic content amongst others.

 

Except for the bottle you are currently using (probably best kept in the fridge), evidence shared by Michael and Zeta in this thread and elsewhere suggests keeping your EVOO in the freezer is the best option for long-term storage.

 

I think people would be curious what the "retailer abroad" you are purchasing from, and why you've chosen them relative to a reputable US retailer, like the Amphora EVOO from Veronica Foods? They are very popular with CR folks around here. Personally I prefer to get my fats from nuts and seeds, but high quality EVOO has a lot to be said for it as well!

 

--Dean

Thanks Dean! In the freezer it will be then.

I would have loved to buy the Amphora EVOO from Veronica Foods - in fact I contacted them, but they said they didn't ship to/sell their product in Europe. I like to add some nuts too (and I do occasionally, but unfortunately it is one of those items I tend to be unable to stop eating when I have them in my house).I'm ordering Oro Bailén - Reserva Familiar Picual. Hope that was a good choice.

Edited by AEN

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Anne,

 

... they said they didn't ship to/sell their product in Europe.

 

Ah - I didn't realize you are overseas too! That explains it.

 

I'm ordering Oro Bailén - Reserva Familiar Picual. Hope that was a good choice.

 

The Oro Bailén Reserva Familiar Picual sounds like a very good choice. At least one of their EVOO's is available via Amazon Prime, for anyone interested in purchase it in the US. Not sure how price compares though - pretty darn expensive, but you get what you pay for. Also, if you buy direct (rather than via Amazon) I'm sure you're more likely to get the freshest oil. I think I'll stick with nuts for now...

 

--Dean

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Anne,

 

... they said they didn't ship to/sell their product in Europe.

 

Ah - I didn't realize you are overseas too! That explains it.

 

I'm ordering Oro Bailén - Reserva Familiar Picual. Hope that was a good choice.

 

The Oro Bailén Reserva Familiar Picual sounds like a very good choice. At least one of their EVOO's is available via Amazon Prime, for anyone interested in purchase it in the US. Not sure how price compares though - pretty darn expensive, but you get what you pay for. Also, if you buy direct (rather than via Amazon) I'm sure you're more likely to get the freshest oil. I think I'll stick with nuts for now...

 

--Dean

Thanks Dean. Yes, I buy directly from them to ensure I get this years oil (I think they mostly communicate in Spanish though; not sure if they speak English).

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Hi, Anne. I've also faced the challenge of getting olive oil in Europe – and much else that's easier to get at a better price elsewhere.

 

This might be hard to believe, but I finally realized that, depending on what one needs to buy (needing to buy elec. devices makes a huge difference), it's actually cheaper than ordering from Europe to fly to the U.S. East Coast, load up on vitamins, olive oil -- a new smartphone or laptop if you need one -- then fly back. Paying for a second suitcase is sometimes needed, but it's still cheaper (in part because it means one has purchased more things, and thus saved more).

 

It wouldn't make as much sense if you didn't have people to stay with for free, perhaps.

 

- Brian

 

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First: the  Oro Bailén Reserva Familiar Picual is indeed an excellent oil: it's actually one of the best oils currently available via Amphora Nueva and (many) other Veronica Foods client stores for the Northern Hemisphere harvest this year (yes, I'm confident that "El Presidente" = "Reserva Familiar": VF is the official distributor for OB in North America).  Amphora and most other VF client stores, unlike Oro Bailén themselves, also post the chemistry on the oil, though not yet a full chemistry panel:
Harvest Date: Nov 2015
FFA(.2) Poly (338) Oleic(75) Peroxide (4.8)

 

VF generally has higher-phenolic oils, especially of the Picual variety, but not for the Northern Hemisphere so far this year. I'm told there are high hopes for an upcoming Italian Coratina, however.

 

Second: I'm amazed, Brian, that " it's actually cheaper than ordering from Europe to fly to the U.S. East Coast, load up on vitamins, olive oil -- a new smartphone or laptop if you need one -- then fly back"! And its' not exactly like the exchange rate is favorable at the moment ...

 

Getting to your main question, AEN: I finally got around to putting together a comprehensive post on this question a little while ago, outlining what I do (with only limited citations, etc, and understanding that I'm a bit of a fanatic about this):

 

The key issues are, of course, to keep all oils away from heat, oxygen, and light (really, UV); the science is not settled over which plays the more important role under realistic consumer and retail conditions, but certainly UV is most responsible for getting the ball rolling.

The first and most widely-recognized things to mind are freshness and packaging. As each hemisphere's oils come in, I buy all of my oil for the season in one go as soon as it's available, both for convenience and because I can store the stuff better than you guys can do in the store. I store the stuff in dark glass (usually thoroughly-washed and dried reused wine bottles) to keep out oxygen and avoid potentially hormone-disrupting chemicals; I use amber bottles when I have them (which is best at shielding against UV), dark green when I don't (next best):

http://www.aromadictionary.com/EVOO_blog/?p=357
http://www.edenfoods.com/articles/view.php?articles_id=181

I use bottles with direct, metal twist-top closures (the Stelvin closures on the wine bottles are excellent). Cork is a poor oxygen barrier except when it's extremely high-quality and mechanically packed under high pressure (ie, not ones you can just pop in and out by hand), and even then, direct metal twist-top caps are preferable.

ANTIOXIDANTS
----------------------
When I get it home, I add in 5 mg/L of liquid lycopene (good luck finding this any more ...) and 1/2 tsp NOW E-Oil per 750 mL bottle (providing a little under 1 mg/L  gamma-tocopherol, which is more effective than alpha-tocopherol at preserving things like EVOO when high levels of phenolics are present due to the problem of "tocopherol-mediated perioxidation"). Through different mechanisms, they both protect the oil from oxidative damage; plus, people who consume a olive oil and little or no seed oils are getting unusually low levels of the latter, which may be protective against cancer and other things, so this is a convenient way to supplement the stuff.

ELIMINATE HEADSPACE
-----------------------------------
The next thing is to eliminate the headspace at the top of the bottle, which is actually a quite high source of oxygen during storage (potentially greater than the difference between storing in glass vs. PET, for example). I try to make sure that the bottle is as full as possible when I first buy it, but even then, and even after decanting the oil into bottles and adding the lycopene and gamma-tocopherol, a surprising amount of reduction in volume ensues after I leave it standing vertically at room temperature for several hours; this is evidently the result of tiny bubbles of air that were initially dispersed into the oil during pouring and transport gradually being released. At that point, I use my "starting bottle" to top off the ones I'm using later, bringing the oil up to the very edge of the rim before closing them up. (No, you don't have to worry about the oil expanding during freezing and exploding: water is actually unique or nearly so in this regard. The effect of low temperature on oil volume is negligible). Alternatively, one can buy argon sprays for wine storage. At this point, I top them off one last time before storage.

STORAGE TEMPERATURE
--------------------------------------
You will read a lot of back-and-forth in the popular EVOO press about whether refrigeration is good or bad for it. I have made what I believe is an exhaustive (or very nearly so) review of the scientific literature on this, and I think the overall picture is clear, but not simple: it can be either -- depending. You have to balance two factors.

On the one hand, the laws of physics really do apply to EVOO: lower temperature = slower rate of reaction, including obviously for initiation & propagation of lipid peroxidation and other degradative processes, such as enzymatic hydrolysis of triglycerides and rearrangements of diacylglycerols.

But on the other hand,  in the PROCESS of the state change in the triglycerides in an oil from liquid to solid and vice-versa, a combination of things happens that actually CAUSES peroxidation of the oils.  The transition temperature of different oils varies from ≈4-8°C, depending on a given oil's fatty acid profile (particularly the palmitic acid content), as well as its triglyceride structure  and to a lesser extent on some of its minor components. (This is why the 'refrigerator test' for EVOO is unreliable). So certainly, and contrary to what Dean reasonably intuits, popping a bottle of EVOO in and out of the 'fridge during daily use (as I practiced for years), is just about the worst thing you can do for the stuff.

So optimal storage must strike the balance between INITIATING some peroxidation during freezing & thawing, and SLOWING peroxidation during storage by keeping it cold. In sum: when one first gets an oil at peak freshness, one should keep at least a few weeks' worth of oil above the crystallization temperature, to avoid the acute damage of crystalization-associated peroxidation of putting it in the fridge or freezer. It's OK to keep this at regular room temperature (20-21°C), but I actually keep such oils in a wine fridge at 10°C.  But the longer you intend to keep a given bottle of oil, the more the effects of a small, acute, *one-time* effect of the transition phase (first congealing during freezing and then thawing out at the end) give way to the *ongoing* protective effect of having the oil at colder temperatures.

 

From the sum of the literature, the sweet spot occurs at some point more than 2 weeks, but certainly no later the 3 month mark, and the
curves in the degradation rates separate increasingly from that point onward. So I keep a couple of months' more oil in the wine fridge, most of the rest in my regular fridge (at 0-4°C), and usually one very last bottle in the freezer (at -18°C). There is a very large difference in the degree of degradation suffered by EVOO stored at room temperature vs. fridge temperature over the course of 6 months, but only a very small one between fridge and freezer (though the effect would become more important over an entire year).

If environmental conditions permit, this could mean that keeping it outside IN THE DARK at some points in the year will work well for you, particularly overnight -- but you will then have to watch the weather forecast to make sure it doesn't get damaged by a big change in the weather.

 

References

Kalua CM, Bedgood DR Jr, Bishop AG, Prenzler PD. Discrimination of storage conditions and freshness in virgin olive oil. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Sep 20;54(19):7144-51.
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf061038j

G. Pristouri; A. Badeka; M.G. Kontominas. Effect of packaging material headspace, oxygen and light transmission, temperature and storage time on quality characteristics of extra virgin olive oil Food Control (April 2010), 21 (4), pg. 412-418

Michiel Jansen,  John Birch
Composition and stability of olive oil following partial crystallization
Food Research International 42 (2009) 826–831
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2009.03.013

 

Bonoli-Carbognin M., Cerretani L., Bendini A., Gallina Toschi T. and Lercker G.

The case of monovarietal olive oil: storage test at different temperature.

Industrie Alimentari. 2005 Nov; 44(452): 1135-1141.

 

Xueqi Li, Hanjiang Zhu, Charles F. Shoemaker, Selina C. Wang

The Effect of Different Cold Storage Conditions on the Compositions of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society

September 2014, Volume 91, Issue 9, pp 1559-157

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11746-014-2496-0

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Second: I'm amazed, Brian, that " it's actually cheaper than ordering from Europe to fly to the U.S. East Coast, load up on vitamins, olive oil -- a new smartphone or laptop if you need one -- then fly back"! And its' not exactly like the exchange rate is favorable at the moment ...

 

Michael, great post, thanks!

 

Quick note on the trans-Atlantic option. You motivated me to double-check my math. Yup: indeed, the fly and buy option is even better than I thought. One has to keep an eye out for the ~$420 round-trip tickets, of course. I use a kayak.com alert. Anne, the same or similar prices probably show up between all Western European cities and the Northeast US. Shipping for a several-month supply of high-quality nuts (would be about the same for olive oil) that I cannot purchase in Europe is at least $100 or so. Import duties are not much less. That's just nuts. iHerb has had free shipping to Europe recently, but usually does not (and no other North American supp. seller ever has free shipping to Europe), so supplement costs also add up: shipping plus import duties. So with nuts (or olive oil), plus supplements, for around a 3- to 4-month period I'm nearly up to the cost of the ticket. For a half-year period, I'm beyond it. Throw in the latest electronic gadgets I need (bunch of small things - cellphone batteries, headphones, flash drives - or, one expensive thing: a new smartphone or external hard drive or laptop), and it's a no-brainer.

 

Just bought my next ticket, in fact.

 

- Brian

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Hi, Anne. I've also faced the challenge of getting olive oil in Europe – and much else that's easier to get at a better price elsewhere.

 

This might be hard to believe, but I finally realized that, depending on what one needs to buy (needing to buy elec. devices makes a huge difference), it's actually cheaper than ordering from Europe to fly to the U.S. East Coast, load up on vitamins, olive oil -- a new smartphone or laptop if you need one -- then fly back. Paying for a second suitcase is sometimes needed, but it's still cheaper (in part because it means one has purchased more things, and thus saved more).

 

It wouldn't make as much sense if you didn't have people to stay with for free, perhaps.

 

- Brian

Thanks Brian, you're absolutely right. And flights to the US are rather inexpensive currently (although we have high airport taxes where I live, so I'd have to travel to another European country first - Stockholm often has very good flight deals to the US.) On another note: you might want to try Momondo.com and Skyscanner.com. I used Kayak in the past, but these websites usually give me better flight deals. And if you're rather flexible try Holidaypirates.uk (and Holidaypirates.com and .es, etc). They have amazing deals; often they have lots of 'error fares' too; at moments also to several US cities. It might be best to subscribe to their alerts, since these error fares are usually gone within hours (sometimes they have return flights for $200-$300 to the US from several European cities).

 

It's just that each time I'm travelling overseas (which is in fact quite regularly and still I never took things with me from the US :rolleyes: )I don't like to take big suitcases with me and heavy suitcases on the way back home. Not to mention I want to avoid issues at customs as they are quite strict over here (and the amount I'd pay for taxes might raise the prices to European price levels). But you're right, and I'm going to make better use of my next trip to the US.

Edited by AEN

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Fantastic and very helpful post Michael Rae, thank you. Of course I've followed your EVOO-posts in the past, so I'm happy to read some conclusions of your extensive research on the topic.

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Anne, thanks for the tips about alt. airline ticket sites!

 

Next time your travel strategy sends you through Stockholm, look me up. (I might even be at the airport at the same time as you....)

 

Brian

 

P.S. By the way, iHerb seems to be continuing to offer their free shipping to Europe option (if order is under 4 lbs., and over $40).

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Anne, thanks for the tips about alt. airline ticket sites!

 

Next time your travel strategy sends you through Stockholm, look me up. (I might even be at the airport at the same time as you....)

 

Brian

 

P.S. By the way, iHerb seems to be continuing to offer their free shipping to Europe option (if order is under 4 lbs., and over $40).

Will certainly do so :)xyz ! Thanks for the news about the free shipping option iHerb currently offers - their prices for shipping to Europe seemed to have risen over the past few years, so that's great news.

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