UPDATED Kitchen Tip: Keeping Olive Oil Fresh with…Water?

By , November 30, 2009

Remember when I posted this in August? Maybe not? Just as well, because I’ve updated it. Scroll down to the “Update!” section to read how I got the water out of the bottle so I could use up the last bit of olive oil. ;-)

Storing Olive Oil with Water

We’ve all heard that heat, light, and air cause oils to oxidize and go rancid. I used to keep my olive oil in the fridge, but it would solidify and I had to plan ahead if I wanted to use it. This was too inconvenient, so I stopped doing it. Recently, I “upgraded” and bought a more expensive Tuscan olive oil at Costco that came in a dark-colored bottle. The dark color prevents the oil from light exposure (especially at the store with all its bright lights). To lessen the oil’s exposure to air, I’ve started topping up my olive oil bottle with water!

After I use any oil, I pour more water into the bottle so that it’s always filled to the top (where there’s only a tiny bit of air between oil and cap). At first, it felt really weird to pour water into the bottle. But since they “mix like oil and water” :-), there’s no problem because the water just settles to the bottom. When using the oil, I just pour carefully so that no water comes up to the surface. I’m wondering what’ll happen when I get to the bottom of the bottle, when there’s only a bit of oil left. Maybe just saute something with it, and let the water boil off? If I ever do get to the bottom of this giant bottle, I’ll let you know what happens.

UPDATE! Okay, I did eventually get to the bottom of the bottle. Toward the end there, I had to pour much more carefully so that the water didn’t come out with the oil. Annoying. When I’d had enough of that, I thought of a clever little way to get the water out: put the bottle in the fridge…on its side…tilted downward, as seen below. Last night’s dinner, covered in foil, works great for supporting the bottle:

Separating oil from water in the fridge

Fridge-eye view. The oil has solidified and I can now just pour off the water.

That way, the oil solidifies from the cold and you can open the cap and pour out all the water! Smart huh. Be sure to set the bottle so that it’s tilted slightly downward; that way, the oil doesn’t solidify and block the opening of the bottle.

Okay, back to the original post:

I’ve read conflicting information (are you as tired of conflicting information as I am??) about storing olive oil in the fridge. Some say yes, some say no. Here’s one perspective, with some interesting FAQs about olive oil, “quality” standards (or lack thereof, it turns out), and storage:

http://www.longmeadowranch.com/Food/About-Olive-Oil

I think I’ll transfer my bottle to a cabinet under the countertop, but away from the stove. I figure I’ll be covering all the bases: keeping the olive oil cool (near the floor, away from the stove), in a dark place (in the cabinet), with minimal air exposure (if I keep topping it up with water).

Do you have a “best practices” method for storing your olive oil? I’d love to know what it is!

One Response to “UPDATED Kitchen Tip: Keeping Olive Oil Fresh with…Water?”

  1. Kazerus says:

    When I was young (very many decades ago) a visiting relative from “the old country” told me that dropping a sugar cube into a bottle of Olive Oil would help prevent the oil from going rancid.
    Has anyone else ever heard this?
    Is there any reason this would work?

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