This week’s Kitchen Questions & Answers is all about olive oil — Do you know what its shelf life is? Or how to tell if it’s rancid? Can you use it in baking or do you know what the different types are? These questions and more are answered below.
Bonus! Did you know you can make your own non-stick spray with it? I’ve added some recipes to the bottom of this page.
- What’s the shelf life? With regular use it’s around a year. Air, heat and light can affect it so if you keep it in a cool, dark location (like in a pantry or cupboard) and limit its exposure to air, you can stretch the shelf life to about 18 months. Keeping a bottle above or near the stove, on a kitchen counter or by a window will hasten its expiry. It does not get better with age and is best used as close to the production date as possible. If you only want to cook with the best, a good rule of thumb is to purchase the amount you will use within a month. If purchasing large amounts, store in smaller bottles so that there is less exposure to the air each time you open a bottle for use.
- How to tell if it’s rancid? There’ll be an undeniable “off” odor and taste when it’s rancid, it will be pronounced and you will recognize it.
- What are the different types? The different types signify how they are produced: Extra Virgin (EVOO) is the highest grade and comes from the first pressing, has no additives and has the lowest acidity. EVOO is considered the best with the best flavor. Good for use in cooking and in uncooked items (marinades, vinagrettes , etc.). Virgin comes from the first pressing just like EVOO does but it has a bit more acidity. Pure is refined olive oil that has virgin olive oil added to it. Good to use in cooking (has a higher smoke point than EVOO).
- What’s a good brand to buy? It depends on your preference, they are made with olives from a single region, a mix of regions and sometimes single estates–each will have their unique flavor (just like wine). Some will have a stronger flavor while others will be lighter. Experiment by trying small bottles of various brands to find the one that suits you best.
- Can it be substituted for vegetable oil in baking and cooking? Yes it can with a 1:1 ratio. The thing to remember is that it has a flavor to it that a regular vegetable oil doesn’t, this flavor will likely affect the finished product.
- Can it be substituted for butter? Yes, but with some adjustments. For every 1 tsp of butter required in baking, use 3/4 tsp olive oil. For every 1 TBS of butter, 2 1/4 teaspoons. For every cup of butter, use 3/4 cup.
- Can it be used to baste a turkey or chicken? Yes it can, just rub it into the skin as you would butter or lard and baste as usual during the cooking process.
- Should it be refrigerated? It’s not necessary, storing it away from a heat source and in the dark is best. You can refrigerate it if you like because this will extend the expiry, but the oil will harden and get cloudy so you will need to bring it to room temperature before you can use it.
- Why is my bottle cloudy? This will happen if it has been chilled (either in transport or storage) but it’s fine to use. This should clear up as it warms up.
- What is cold pressed? This means that no heat or chemicals were used to extract the olive oil.
- Is it ok to use on popcorn as a topping instead of butter or margarine? Yes! Some even prefer the flavor.
- Can it be frozen? You can freeze it by storing it in an airtight container. You may find a slight difference in flavor once it’s thawed but it’s still good to use in cooking.
Non-Stick Spray Recipes:
Quick & Easy Cooking Spray
- Fill a pump spray bottle with oil and use as you would commercial non-stick spray products.
Homemade Non-Stick Spray
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
4 TBS liquid lecithin  (found at health food stores)
- Mix ingredients well and store in a pump spray bottle. Recipe can be made in batches with the ratio 2:1 (oil to liquid lecithin).
1 part vegetable oil
1 part Crisco or vegetable shortening (at room temperature)
1 part flour
- Beat all ingredients together until completely mixed and smooth. Store in airtight container and refrigerate. Coat on pans with a pastry brush–make sure to cover pan surfaces completely. Recipe can be made in batches with equal parts for all ingredients.