To understand the shelf life of olive oil, we must first distinguish that there are three types of olive oil, the lowest quality olive oil, the best quality virgin olive oil and the best quality extra virgin olive oil.
What is the difference between the oils? The difference is that olive oil, which is of lower quality, is due to the elimination of vitamins, minerals and polyphenols (antioxidants) which are the main characteristics of the other two oils, but it loses them through chemical treatment and temperature.
The other two olive oils maintain this quality thanks to their mechanical extraction, which preserves all the beneficial compounds, and to the precision and cleanliness of the pressing, which is responsible for the contamination and slight bad smells or none at all. The difference in quality between these two oils is so small that only an official taster is responsible for the classification between a virgin olive oil and an extra virgin olive oil.
However, this date is not the expiry date, but rather the best-before date, as this type of quality oil can deteriorate its organoleptic qualities with the passage of time, as it begins to lose the characteristic flavour and smell of an extra virgin olive oil.
This is because over time, oxidation reactions occur on polyphenols, tocopherols and oleic acid. This can change its taste to a more acidic taste and smell. Even with these changes in the characteristics of extra virgin olive oil, it can still be used without any problem for frying, stewing… But it may have a rancid acidity and smell when used as a dressing.
Preferential use of olive oil
So we can say that the date on the packaging is more to warn the producer that after that date he is not responsible if it does not meet the characteristics of a virgin or extra virgin olive oil. It is a best-before date and not an expiry date.
How long can an extra virgin olive oil last? Well, this is not always the same as it depends on the variety of olive it comes from, if it is kept in a dark and cool place it can last a little longer than if you keep it in the light and heat. But to give an approximation, the preferential consumption can be up to 2 years.
Olive oil expires
How do you know if the olive oil is bad after the best before date? Well, the colour of the oil is important, knowing that the colour range of the oil is between an intense green and a golden colour. Any other colour that is not in this colour range will indicate that the olive oil is not in good condition. With the smell you can also recognise if an olive oil is in bad condition, if it has a smell that reminds you of solvent or paint, it means that it is in bad condition. And lastly, the taste can be used to determine if the oil is stale, if it tastes rancid when you drink it.