How long can you store olive oil?
As a very flexible rule, extra virgin olive oil can be stored for about a year. It likely will not go rancid after a year, but the flavors will mellow as the oil matures. There’s often a best by date on the bottle that is usually 1-2 years after it has been bottled.
What’s the best way to store olive oil?
Keep it in a relatively cool, dark place. Heat and light are enemies, so keep it away from window sills and stove sides. There’s no need to refrigerate, in fact, we recommend you avoid it.
When can I expect the next season’s olive oils to arrive?
Most of our olive oils come from the Northern Hemisphere, so the olives are harvested in the fall. The pressing and bottling happens in the fall or early winter. For any oils that aren’t produced in the United States, we’ll then wait for them to slowly make their voyage across the ocean to us. Keep an eye out for new harvest oils to be on our shelves by late spring or early summer.
Olive oil flavor guide
Light & Elegant
The most delicate oils. For an olive oil novice, this is where I recommend starting. These oils are often made near the seaside, which makes them a perfect match with baked fish.
Buttery & Silky
Lovely, rich, smooth oils – without any bite. If you want to taste the fruity parts of the olive without the peppery kick getting in the way, here’s the place to look. Good as a substitute for butter or when you want to play up the sweetness of an oil.
Smooth & Assertive
Intense oils, but not over the top. These have loads of flavor but not as much spicy kick as some others. In my opinion, these are the best all-around oils for pasta, dipping bread, and more.
Rustic & Fruity
The most intense oils. Loads of grassy flavor with a peppery, spicy kick. Use these alongside bold foods, like drizzled over grilled steaks or vegetables.
What impacts olive oil flavor?
Why does one olive oil taste different than another? There’s a few key factors that impact flavor:
1. Olive varietal
Just like wine made with Chardonnay grapes tastes different than wine made from Merlot grapes, olive oils made from different types of olives can have totally different flavors. There are thousands of different olives in the world. Some are milder. Some are more bitter. Some are more buttery. Each will imparts its own flavor when pressed for its oil.
2. Harvesting and production
Olives ripen in the fall. They all start green. If you leave them on the tree long enough they will all turn black. If you want a pepperier, grassier tasting oil, it’s better to look for one that was harvested earlier in the season when the olives were greener. If you’re looking for a richer, more buttery oil, you’re better off looking for one harvested later in the season when the olives were blacker. Not all olives ripen at the same time, so an oil maker looks for a certain mix of ripeness on the trees – green, brown, purple, black – before picking.
Generally, the best oils are pressed just hours after picking, while poorer quality, less flavorful oils may take longer and be treated less carefully. There’s one significant exception, however. In southern France, a few producers still use a traditional method where the olives are intentionally left to sit for a few days to ferment before pressing, creating deep black olive flavor and rich, buttery textures.
Around the Mediterranean, olives have been pressed to make oil for thousands of years. Different regions have developed their own particular takes on oil. Many regions have unique olives found nowhere else, like the bold Coratina that’s widespread only in Puglia. Different regions can also have different standards for how ripe the olives should be when harvested, or how to handle the olives after picking. Since these traditional varietals and methods are often quite localized, knowing where a Mediterranean olive oil comes from can often be a shorthand into predicting what it will taste like.
Annual weather patterns matter too. Having a hotter, drier summer can make for a more intensely flavored oil; rain during the autumn harvest may water the flavors down. The only way to truly know what each year’s harvest is like is to taste. At Zingerman’s, we do that step for you! Each year we taste all the new harvest oils and update our tasting notes for each oil.
Sandwich Tunisienne recipe
Makes 2-3 hefty, messy sandwiches
4-6 hearty slices good bread
1-2 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
1-2 spoonfuls of harissa
1 tin good tuna
1 preserved lemon, sliced thin
1. Take the bread and brush the sides that will be insides of your sandwiches with enough olive oil that it soaks into the bread a bit
2. On top of the olive oil, spread a generous spoonful of harissa on the bread—taste it first, and then use more or less depending on how hot you want the sandwich to be
3. On the bottom slices of bread, add the tuna (I like about a third of a tin per sandwich) and enough slices of preserved lemon to get some in every bite
4. If you want to add in any additional ingredients, like capers, artichokes, or roasted red peppers, pile ‘em on
5. Put the top slice of bread on, and squish the sandwich together
The sandwiches are good right away, and even better after sitting for a bit when the oil soaks into the bread and the flavors really meld together.