Olive. Sesame. Avocado. Almond. Walnut. Pistachio. Grape seed. Peanut. Hazelnut. Garlic. Basil. Safflower. To name a few…
Unlike balsamic vinegar, cooking oils actually do go rancid and spoil after a period of time. While the method of storage can add greatly in terms of the duration of life for cooking oils, eventually the culmination of heat, light and exposure to air contribute to the spoilage of oils. Darker, hydrogenated oil will generally last longer than other more delicate oils; however, the maximum amount of time to keep an oil is one year (once opened). One manner of contributing to a longer shelf life? Store olive oil in the fridge – only if consumer does not use the oil on a daily basis. While the oil may congeal, remove from the fridge, about one hour before use, in order to have a proper room-temperature consistency.
Cooking oils should be stored in a cool, dry place (pantry is brilliant), if using on a daily basis (my hope is that as you continue to gain more confidence in the kitchen, you will cook more often – thereby needing us use oils on a daily basis!) When oils come in contact with the air, oxidation occurs. The byproducts of oxidation have an unpleasant flavor and unpleasant fragrance – thereby contributing to the spoilage of oils. Oxidation also have a negative effect on the nutritional value of oils. Ergo, be sure that the lid id tightly closed after using the oil.
So how does one know when oils have gone rancid? It would be nice if oils could magically change color or transform into a solid matter, in order to indicate the need to replace. But alas, that would be too easy. In terms of spoilage, the nose knows. Well, come to think of it, the mouth does as well… but why have to introduce an unpleasant flavor to your lips if you can avoid by simply smelling? (or cooking so often that the oil must be replaced before ever spoiling!) Rancid oil truly permeates a stale odor. Purchase a new bottle of oil… take olive oil, for example. Become familiar with the smell of “freshly opened” olive oil. Then, smell a bottle that has been “lying around” for three months. By smell, you will know. The taste will be quite obvious as well.
Granted, yes… not all oils are created equal. But in terms of shelf-life, I treat oils one in the same… my general rule is to discard after three months (although since I cook often, I generally will need to replace before the three-month span. Remember… salad dressings and vinaigrettes, as well as marinades may be made with different oils. This will aid in using the products more often.
A robust olive oil pairs brilliantly with roasted or sautéed vegetables. A wonderful appetizer? French haricot verts (essentially – green beans) and roasted tomatoes. Toss olive oil with thinly-sliced Roma tomatoes (about ¼ inch thick), freshly crushed sea salt, dried Italian herbs and cracked black pepper. Lay the vegetables on an aluminum-foil lined baking sheet (aids in clean up). Allow to roast at 400 degrees F, for about 30 minutes (they cook quickly, since they are cut thin). When tender and nicely roasted, place tomatoes in a large mixing bowl and smash with a fork (do not blend – as the mixture will turn into a sauce… intention is to have “chunky/textured/lumpy” consistency. After properly “mashed,” set aside.
Before blanching the haricot verts, line the beans together and cut into the same size. This will give the dish a more polished, refined demeanor. Place uniform-cut beans in boiling salt water, and allow to cook for two minutes. After the 120 seconds in the boiling water, removed and immediately “shock” in ice water. Not only does this halt the cooking process, but it also maintains the bright green gleam of the beans.
Say that three times fast.
Dry the haricot verts with a towel and mix with:
1c. 0% fat Greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp smoked sea salt
1 Tbsp. dried Italian herbs
Essentially, the yogurt mixture is a means of “binding” the beans together for presentation, as well as adding a subtle, creamy component.
Presentation: Place a ring-mold in the middle of the plate and add the tomato mixture (about ¼ in thickness) – use a spoon to level the mixture. Remove the ring mold and place beans in a stacked manner, in the middle of the tomatoes (resembling a “camp fire.”) Again, the yogurt will aid in sticking the beans together. Drizzle around the plate with fresh olive oil (be sure to place cap back ON when finished), as well as a few micro-greens to “soften” the dish.
“Once someone tries a real extra virgin -- an adult or a child, anybody with taste buds -- they'll never go back to the fake kind. It's distinctive, complex, the freshest thing you've ever eaten. It makes you realize how rotten the other stuff is, literally rotten. But there has to be a first time. Somehow we have to get those first drops of real extra virgin oil into their mouths, to break them free from the habituation to bad oil, and from the brainwashing of advertising. There has to be some good oil left in the world for people to taste.” – Tom Mueller
Love y’all! ♥