Olive Oil in Winter

Posted by Al Pryzbylski on January 25, 2019 0 Comments

Attention Please!! Important: 

Every year in the winter (including this year) we've been getting emails and calls from customers concerned about oil that looks different than normal, either thicker or the texture has changed (some think it looks like a growth or excess sediment).

We wanted to address this so all our customers are aware: this is a normal occurrence this time of year. As the olive oil transports to us from the West Coast they can be subjected to cold temperatures, and this can cause oils to solidify. You can sometimes see a change in texture of the oil that looks like pellets or droplets of something, that is natural vegetable waxes in the oils. 


We have recently experienced a rash of phone calls complaining that there is sludge, gel, particulate, "creamy stuff", coagulation, etc. in our olive oil.  After 10 years of receiving these calls beginning in the colder months of fall and winter, this sudden influx of calls comes as no surprises to us. 

However, we would like to take some time to talk about how extra virgin olive oil behaves when exposed to cold.  When extra virgin olive oil reaches 55 degrees, it will typically begin to cloud.  At 50 degrees most olive oils really begin to set up, at 45 degrees it can become a gel, and any colder, it can look like a solid block.  This doesn't just happen in one fell swoop, however.  There is a evolution from liquid to solid beginning at the bottom of the container and working upwards.  In many cases, it will look like two separate substances in the same container where the solidifying olive oil meets the still liquid olive oil with floating pieces of solidified olive oil in the liquid olive oil.  This process is due to the naturally occurring waxes inside the olive and its pit becoming solid.  Different olives have different amounts of these waxes which dictate how readily they will turn from liquid to solid, and at what temperature.  In other words, no two olive oils set up exactly the same when exposed to cold.  


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