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An elixir of long life that needs good storage

The fact that extra virgin olive oil plays a noble and vital role in our nutrition is now known by the vast majority of consumers. To preserve the special qualities of this precious fruit of nature for a long time, certain precautions and instructions for use must be followed.

As Anapoo (National Association of professional tasters olive oil) experts explain, oil is a living food, but like all fats, it is subject to the effects of pollution and oxidation. It must therefore be protected from three insidious enemies: smells, light and heat. We must avoid storing it in places polluted by smoke, mould, fuels, paints and so on; the metal dispenser, so practical in avoiding annoying dripping but imperfect in isolating the liquid, should also be replaced after use by a safer screw cap.

Light works as a catalyst of oxidative processes, with consequent flavour alteration, while heat accelerates the phenomenon. In summary: a tightly closed bottle, protected from light and stored in a cool place (14-15 degrees), ensures proper preservation.

In addition, unlike wine, which improves with age, it can be said that young oil, the one of each new annual harvest, is to be considered the best. At its origin, extra virgin olive oil is organoleptically not very balanced and, when tasted, heightened and incoherent tones can be noticed; but in a fairly short time (one or two months, depending on the character and cultivar(s)), the oil defines its personality, balancing and harmonizing. It will not improve any further.

If of good quality (and well preserved), it will retain the characteristics for longer, but its life cycle (roughly between 12 and 18 months) will inevitably diminish in stages: fragrance and flavour of the fruit will fade and ever more apparent defects will appear until it is unusable. This is mainly due to exhaustion of the antioxidant action carried out by other substances (such as phenolic compounds), which protect it from going off; therefore, the content of natural antioxidants of an extra virgin olive oil, together with the way in which it is preserved, defines its duration.