Using the right kind of olive oil can elevate your cooking with an added level of depth and flavor tailored to your dish, while experimenting with different varieties like those infused with pepper, garlic, or truffles can be the perfect boost to any recipe. But few people understand what factors play into the perfect olive oil. Here's our tips for getting the most out of olive oil.
1. Harvest date
Extra virgin olive oil is best used up to 18 months after its harvest date. Despite the 2-3 year expiration date that appears on the bottle, the freshness begins to decline at this point if the bottle is already opened. So if you have any leftover olive oil around the kitchen, it may be best to buy a new bottle to make your dish the best it can be.
2. Regional oil
Nowadays, climate change has the potential to drastically impact the taste and availability of certain oils. Tuscany olive oil is known for its emerald green color and exuberant herbal flavor that are tied to the weather of the region. Whereas olive oils grown in Andalucia in the fields of southern Spain might contain an aroma of the tomato vines that are often present in the area, elsewhere, like in California, the oil may taste lighter.
3. Shelf life
The color of the bottle is a great indicator of freshness. Is the bottle dark green? Exposure to light can greatly reduce the shelf life of your oil, so it's key to store olive oil away from air, heat, and light (AKA, not next to the stove!). These elements hasten the oxidation process, which will make the oil rancid over time. However, storing your oil in the refrigerator can throw off the oil's flavor because of condensation within the bottle. It's best to keep olive oil in a cool, dark cabinet to prolong its flavor.
4. Smell and taste
If you're unsure of how long you've kept a bottle of olive oil in your pantry, a quick smell and taste check can give you all the answers you need. If its particularly pungent or starting to smell rancid, it's better to throw it out than ruin your dish.