Olive oil can offer many cooking benefits and can also help provide benefits to our overall health. For the average olive oil user, you may use it frequently but never really put much thought behind it. Others, who have discovered some of the great benefits olive oil can offer have decided to dive deeper and gain a better understanding on the correct uses, storage and best practices for using olive oil.
A question I had not long ago and that I see pop up frequently is about the actual physical appearance of your olive oil. Why is my olive oil cloudy? Here is what I can tell you about the topic.
So, why is my olive oil cloudy? Olive oil can be cloudy for several reasons. First, when your olive is stored in cold temperatures, it can begin to solidify. This usually happens when it’s stored in refrigerators or during the winter months. Additionally, olive oil can be cloudy when it is unfiltered.
Cloudy olive oil doesn’t necessarily mean that it shouldn’t be used. In fact, in most circumstances, you can quickly restore your olive oil back to its fluid and liquid state by merely by warming it up.
However, I’ve seen individuals pose many other questions on this topic. If you stick around for a minute, I’ll attempt to hit on every question I believe you may have on this subject.
Understanding Cloudy Olive Oil and The Causes Behind It
We touched on this briefly already, but the number one reason you are going to experience your olive oil being cloudy is due to nothing more than the temperature that it’s currently being stored at. Olive oil when stored in cold temperatures will begin causing the wax (waxy esters) to solidify.
This is especially true for extra virgin olive oil. This can happen at home or on stores shelves in the winter months when cold air is frequently released into the store. The good news is that olive oil being chilled or even frozen in some circumstances does not harm the olive oil or cause any health concerns.
Bringing the olive oil back to temperature can help restore the olive oil and return the olive oil to its liquid state.
Why Does This Happen to Begin With?
Something you may not know is that olive oil is like most fruits. Olives have a layer of waxes that rest on their epidermis (epicarp). This is by design. This layer of waxes helps to protect the olives from insects and other harmful elements in addition to desiccation. When these waxes get below temperature, they begin to harden.
Some olive oils are even chilled and filtered intentionally for applications and different uses such as using the oil for salad dressings.
What Temperature Does This Happen with Olive Oil? When Will it Solidify?
The dark look to your olive oil or the solidification process will begin almost immediately in any refrigerator. Most refrigerators are pre-set at a temperature of 37 degrees. The cloudy look and solidification process that takes places will start at 50 degrees F and below.
As you can probably see and understand, unless you have your fridge set at a warmer temperature, you will begin having the solidification and cloudiness take place right away.
What Should I do To Bring My Olive Back to Its Original State?
Warming up your olive oil will immediately begin bringing your olive oil back to its original state. When doing this, however, you will want to avoid using hot water. This can damage the overall quality of the olive oil.
The easiest and safest method of bringing your olive oil back to its liquid state is to only allow it to rest or be stored at normal warm/room temperatures. Using this method requires no work, does not distort your quality, and will get the job done quickly.
How Do You Know If Olive Oil Has Gone Bad?
Remember, solidified and cloudy oil does not mean that olive oil has gone bad. In fact, it usually indicates it’s perfectly fine for use. However, a simple sniff test will allow you to double check. Take your olive oil, pour some out into a cup and give it a good old sniff.
If it smells rancid, then your olive oil has gone bad but if it smells just as good as day one, cloudy or not, you are good, and it’s perfectly fine to use.
What’s Floating in My Olive Oil?
When your olive oil gets’ cold, you may notice some floaters roaming around inside of the bottle. This is strictly due to the colder temperatures. These are wax pellets that have hardened due to the cold temperatures.
Once the olive oil has been sitting out for roughly 45 minutes, you will notice that the pellets disappear, the cloudiness leaves the bottle, and the olive oil looks as good as new.
What Is the Sediment on The Bottom of My Olive Oil Bottle?
This could be one of two things. First, it could be what this entire blog post is about. It could be nothing more than your olive oil being cold and needing the opportunity to return to normal room temperature.
However, it’s also possible that your olive is too old. When this happens your olive oil, and the olive oil bottle may begin showing some signs of slime that typically latches on or attaches to the side of the bottle.
If you notice this taking place, I don’t recommend using the oil, and if you need a second confirmation that the olive oil is too old, you can simply refer the sniff test that we discussed previously in this post.
Can Rancid Olive Oil Hurt You?
I’m not a doctor so don’t take this advice to the bank, but the answer is no. Rancid or outdated olive oil should have no health impacts on you. Sure, your food may taste like a backyard dumpster, but as far as being concerned you will be on the bathroom floor throwing up, you won’t have this issue.
Additionally, you shouldn’t have much of an issue distinguishing if the olive oil is bad in the first place before using. It should have an odor if you are about to use olive oil that’s turned this bad over time.
Can Olive Oil Mold?
The olive oil itself does not typically mold. The cloudiness you notice also has nothing to do with the potential for mold either. If mold does occur within an olive oil bottle, it’s typically never going to be the actual olive oil that is beginning to mold.
The mold will usually occur around the lid of the bottle and again, referring back to the good old’ sniff test should inform you if you have a problem on your hands or not. If you do, discard it.
Olive oil for the price should never be used unless it’s perfect/good quality. It’s cheap to grab another bottle, and the taste of your cooking could be dramatically impacted by using old or rancid olive oil.
Does Extra Virgin Olive Oil Also Go Bad?
Yes, extra virgin olive oil will go bad in the same respect as regular olive oil. Although olive oil is known to last much longer than any other grocery item such as a gallon of milk, it still has its breaking point.
After roughly 18-24 months even when stored in ideal situations, your olive oil will begin to suffer a quality drop and it will be time to make an adjustment.
If you haven’t read our blog post about storing olive oil correctly, be sure to see that here. It will give the information needed to get the most shelf life and bang for your buck from your olive oil and should help you answer plenty of other frequently asked questions.
What Should Olive Oil Smell Like?
I’ve mentioned the sniff test nearly 5 times up to this point in the post so figured I’d at least give you a quick background on what you need to be looking for. First and foremost, good/ fresh olive oil should smell almost fruity from the olives it was initially created from.
If it smells more peppery or has a spice kick scent to it, this is also very good. It means you’re a high roller and using some high-quality olive oil.
It’s when your olive oil smells like a dirty diaper soaked in curdled milk that you have a problem. Okay, I may have slightly exaggerated that scent and visual, but if your olive oil doesn’t match these scents and has that rancid smell, that’s your easy indicator to know what to do next. Either dispose of it or use it depending on the smell that emits from the olive oil bottle.
Cold Olive Oil Equals Cloudy Olive Oil, but It’s Still Ready for Use
The central premise of this post was to touch on the fact that cloudy olive oil is completely normal. It could be that you just have never noticed it until recently which is no big deal. Storing olive oil in your refrigerator will always cause olive oil to look funky at times.
It may look slimy or appear as if it has some floaties roaming around inside the bottle but a few minutes on the counter and left at room temperature and you should look as good as new.
Storing olive oil is essential to its shelf life, but olive oil remains one of that great cooking and health aids that if it smells okay, you’re most likely in good shape to continue using it.