Does Olive Oil Solidify?
If you are wondering how and why olive oil solidifies, you have come to the right place. In today’s field guide, we are diving into whether or not extra virgin olive oil solidifies (spoiler alert: it does), what to do if you accidentally solidify your olive oil and why the fridge test actually tells you nothing about the quality of your olive oil.
Does Olive Oil Solidify?
The short answer is yes, all olive oil does solidify if the temperature gets cold enough. Around 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit, the natural wax particles in the olive oil will begin to precipitate out of the oil, making it look cloudy or crystallized. Around 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit, the olive oil will begin to form a consistency that is similar to soft butter. Since most fridges are kept around 37 degrees Fahrenheit for food safety purposes, this means that olive oil will solidify if put in the fridge. As the temperature drops further, the olive oil will become more and more solid until it is completely frozen through.
What to Do If Your Olive Oil Solidifies
Solidification and freezing does not affect the quality of your olive oil, so if you accidentally put your olive oil in the fridge or freezer, do not fret. Simply thaw it out and use it as normal. In fact, freezing olive oil in an ice cube tray with some fresh herbs is a great way to preserve your olive oil if you cannot use it up before the bottle starts to go rancid. We talk about this more in our “Does olive oil freeze?” FAQ article.
If your entire bottle of olive oil has solidified, then fill a sink or pot with hot water and place the glass olive oil bottle into the water. The heat will gently melt the olive oil, reversing the solidification process and restoring it back to its liquid state. This is best done with a glass bottle, as hot water may cause a plastic bottle to melt or deform.
That being said, we still recommend keeping your olive oil in a cool, dry place — such as the kitchen pantry — away from temperatures that are either too hot or too cold. Thawing out olive oil adds an extra step to your cooking process and also means that it is not ready to go as a last-minute sauce or garnish, so it is better to keep it liquid if you can. Learn more about how to store olive oil properly in our dedicated guide.
Solidified Olive Oil Myths
You may have heard of the fridge test, which is based on the myth that only high quality, 100 percent genuine extra virgin olive oil solidifies in the fridge. The theory went that adulterated olive oils would not solidify in the fridge, making this an easy test to determine the quality of your olive oil and whether or not it had been mixed in with other oils.
This myth was based on the idea that polyunsaturated fats — which genuine olive oil contains in very high levels — solidify at a lower temperature than monounsaturated fats. Thus, the idea was that high quality flavored olive oil containing lots of polyunsaturated fats would solidify in the fridge, while lower quality, adulterated oil that contains more monounsaturated fats would not.
While this myth may be appealing, it is simply false. All oils will eventually solidify if you lower the temperature enough (although some, such as canola oil, do remain liquid at refrigerator temperatures). Furthermore, because olive oil can be adulterated with both high polyunsaturated fat oils (such as sunflower oil) and high monounsaturated fat oils (like peanut oil), adulterated oils can still solidify in the fridge.
While not as easy as putting your olive oil in the fridge, there are other, more accurate ways to determine the quality of your olive oil, and that starts with choosing a great olive oil in the first place. Check out our buyer’s guide to selecting olive oil for more tips on choosing a high quality oil.
One of the most important things that you can do when shopping for a high quality olive oil is to choose a reputable brand that is transparent about its fruits and harvesting process. At Brightland, we work with family-owned, U.S.-based farms to harvest olives at the peak of perfection and process them within 90 minutes of harvesting for a truly fresh and delicious extra virgin olive oil. Our olive oils come in many different varieties and flavors, so be sure to browse our entire store before making your final selection!