When we pick up a bottle of olive oil at a grocery store, or anything in fact, we will almost always check for the “expiry date” printed on the product.
We don’t use “expiry” date in olive oil to signify the “use by” date. Instead, the term “best before” date is used. The two mean very different things.
Does olive oil “expire”? Does “expired” olive oil hurt? Here we will explain.
Why Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
It is for these two reasons, health and taste, that we are using olive oil in our everyday culinary, be it for cooking or using it raw.
Polyphenols & Vitamin E are higher in premium quality extra virgin olive oils.
Omega-9, or commonly known as the monounsaturated fat, is also the other reason for using extra virgin olive oil.
Caring for Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Unlike wine, extra virgin olive oil doesn’t improve with age. Time is the enemy of olive oil, along with light, heat and oxygen.
“Best Before” & “Expiry” Dates
It is from this angle that the “best before” date simply embodies the freshness of the olive oil.
On the other hand, “expiry” date is used on all perishable products, such as meat and fish, to signify the potential risks involved in the consumption of the products past the expiration date.
Stop Throwing Food Away! The foods that past the “best before” date can still be eaten safely.
Beyond “Best Before” Date
One frequently asked question about the “best before” date is whether the olive oil is still good for consumption?
The short answer to this question is: Yes, it is good for the next six month to one year past the two year best before date.
Quality Counts: The shelf life of extra virgin olive oil is correlated to its quality and storage conditions.
The acidity level is often used to define the quality of olive oil, maximum cap at 0.8%. The lower, the better.
We offer two reasons for considering using the “nearly-expired” olive oil:
1) Olive oil is not a perishable product. Two things will happen over time in general:
– The flavour of the olive oil will be diminishing but not gone.
– The health-promoting polyphenols are still there but not at its peak.
– But one thing does not change, the Omega-9, or the monounsaturated fat, remains intact.
2) Most of us are not olive oil enthusiasts, nor our nose and taste buds are trained like a chef or an olive oil master taster, who could detect subtle change in the aroma and taste of olive oil.
Health Benefits of Monounsaturated Fat:
- Lower the risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing bad cholesterol levels without reducing the good HDL cholesterol;
- Manage type-2 diabetes by reducing the peak blood-glucose response;
- Develop and maintain our body cells by providing the needed nutrients.
Alternative Uses Past “Best Before” Date
Don’t be afraid of using extra virgin olive oil when it is approaching its “best before” date, unless we are date-sensitive or freshness-specific.
Here we present two alternative uses of olive oil with its “best before” date coming around.
- Use it for everyday cooking and frying;
- Use it for beauty care.
“Best Before” Dates and “Expiry” Dates: 5 things we may not know.
As Cooking Oil
If we are using the olive oil for our everyday cooking and frying, it is fine.
Wefood Project: A supermarket in Copenhagen selling surplus food has proved to be so popular it recently opened a second store.
The monounsaturated fat present in the olive oil is a good fat and far healthier than most vegetable and seed oils.
Polyunsaturated Fat is made up of Omega-3 and Omega-6. The former is anti-inflammatory, while the latter is pro-inflammatory.
Our body needs a balanced ratio of both, 1:1 to 1:10 at most or else the risk of having chronic diseases may be increased
Some of the cooking oils we should avoid using include: Rice bran oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, corn oil, and soybean oil.
Just imagine this: Our beloved mother has painstakingly prepared Chinese dumplings for our dinner. Naturally without any doubts, we will add chili oil to our dumplings.
Which of the two chili oils we will choose from? Chili oil prepared with vegetable/seed oil or extra virgin olive oil?
Making a Choice: Here are two tips to help us make an informed choice:
- Extra virgin olive oil is “olive juice”.
- Its trans fat is closed to zero.
As Cosmetic Use
Extra virgin olive oil is an inexpensive and 100% natural beauty secret that has been used thousands of years in the Mediterranean cultures.
It is a great skin moisturiser and be able to help prevent our skin from premature ageing.
- Body Lotion: Apply olive oil all over or part of our body right after shower. Our skin will feel soft and smooth.
- Make-Up Remover: Damp a cotton pad with extra virgin olive oil, and gently wipe away all the make-up from our face. Olive oil nourishes the skin at the same time.
- Hair Conditioner: Simply rub one spray-pressed of extra virgin olive oil on our palms and then applied it over our hair. Our hair will look shiny and healthy looking.
- Strengthen Nails: Just soak our nails in slightly warmed up extra virgin olive oil for about five to ten minutes once or twice a week. We will enjoy strong, shiny and healthy nails.
Are We Afraid of “Best Before” Date?
“Best before” date is only an indicative date on product freshness and has little to do with food safety.
Food Expiry Dates? How many of us are guilty of desperately gobbling our food in an attempt to finish them before the expiry date? Or throwing food away once we see that it is past the expiry date?
Over time, the flavour of the olive oil and its health benefits will be diminishing, but that doesn’t mean that they are all gone.
- For everyday cooking and frying, it is a healthier choice; still better than the refined oil.
- For drizzling and using it raw, the aroma and taste of the olive oil would still give us the thrill.
- Best part of all, when the current price of the olive oil matches its value at that time, it is value-for-money.
Smoke Point & Frying Temperature: Extra virgin olive oil has a medium-high smoke point that falls between 180-215oC. The normal frying temperature is between 160-190oC, so we are safe to use extra virgin olive oil for cooking/frying.
Are we afraid of the “best before” date? To some, if not most of us, this could well be. Who is not sensitive to the “use-by” date?
Let’s look at it from the alternative uses:
- Extra virgin olive oil has been used on the body and hair since ancient times.
- It is 100% natural for skin-, body- and hair-care – No additional chemical added to it.
- It nourishes, rejuvenates and protects our skin.
- It is cheap as compared to the price of a cosmetic product and effective.
Does Expired Oil Hurt? No, if it has not gone rancid. But how long after the date can we consume the oil? It depends heavily on the oil quality.
Food for thought: Consuming food products prior to the expiration date does not guarantee the safety of the food, if it is not stored properly.
A product is not necessarily unsafe after the “best before” date under ideal storage conditions.
Words of Caution: The best way to tell whether the product is still good for consumption is by smelling and checking the appearance of the product.
If it has a bad smell, it is a clear indication that the product has gone rancid and it should be discarded immediately.