To understand how long the EVOO remains extra virgin, you have to assume that there is no direct and simple answer, because it depends a variety of factors that we will explain below:
To start with, olive oils are very different. Its content of antioxidants, generally measured by its level of polyphenols, varies greatly between different types of olive oils. Some varieties have up to three times more than others. Polyphenols are not only beneficial for your health but they also help to extend the healthier life of the oil.
The “virginity” of the oil also has a lot to do with the undergone filtering processes or if it has been left unfiltered. Both options have defenders and detractors who disagree on the merits of one type or another; sometimes this will depend on their own interests.
An objective fact is that the filtration removes the residual water from the vegetation of the oil, as well as any fine sediment that remains from the olive tree fruit. These two elements are usually associated with the freshness of the oils you buy as the seasons new oil.
However, if the water or sediments remain in contact with the oil, in a short time the oils quality will suffer and it will degrade from extra virgin to virgin, or even to olive oil without any attributes.
That is why it is better that the extra virgin olive oil from each harvest gets consumed shortly after harvest: up to three to six months the EVOO does not lose any of its organoleptic qualities.
Although on one side the unfiltered oil has a very appreciated texture, on the other hand, with the filtration of the fine particles we prevent sediment in the oil over time. That means it is more likely to maintain its “extra virginity” for a year or even two.
The EVOO storage conditions can also lengthen or shorten the extra virgin state of the olive oil. Exposure to light, especially if the olive oil is in a clear bottle, and exposure to temperatures higher than 70 ° Fahrenheit (21 ° C) directly affect the quality, also the EVOO’s contact with the air, which results in oxidation.
To be able to speak of a real extra virgin olive oil, according to its date, we should consider the following, which is based on scientific fact.
- The seasons unfiltered EVOO last from 3 to 6 months
- Low polyphenol EVOO, filtered or sterile: from 1 to 2 years. But if it is exposed to air, light or elevated temperature, its life can shorten between 6 to 12 months.
- High polyphenol EVOO, filtered oils: 18 months to 3 years. But if exposed to elevated temperatures, its life can be shortened by 6 months.
Therefore, and according to AECOSAN (Spanish Agency for Consumer and Food Safety and Nutrition), you should not make the mistake of looking only at the packaging date when we are going to consume EVOO. You need to look at two other details: the amount of polyphenols or if it has been filtered.
Also, keep in mind that once purchased, you must keep the EVOO in a cool and dark place. When you open it should be consume it in a reasonable taking into account the time using the tips we have given you.
It is common to see households with large bottles bought at low prices where little care for the quality that all EVOO must have when leaving the mill, nor sufficient care in the packaging, labeling and conservation conditions have been taken. Therefore, it is advisable to buy small packages whenever possible so as to avoid accumulation of the product.