Why does olive oil get cloudy and thick?
Probably at some point you’ve seen some white lumps in the olive oil you store at home, but you know why?
If you’re a long time olive oil user then it’s possible that at some point you’ve noticed white crystals in the olive oil you keep at home. But do you know what they are and why they are there?
To explain, let’s start by comparing the freezing process of olive oil and water:
Water is a homogeneous liquid made entirely of H2O (hydrogen and oxygen) molecules. Since it’s made of one type of molecule, all of its particles freeze at the same temperature: 0ºC (32º fahrenheit). As the temperature lowers, the movement of the water molecules becomes slower until the water reaches freezing temperature at 0ºC, at this point the molecules stop moving and the water freezes and becomes solid: ice.
A similar process takes places with olive oil, but olive oil is not a homogeneous liquid like water is. The difference is that olive oil is made of a few different molecules, called triglycerides, and each has its own freezing temperature. The freezing point of these different molecules ranges between 0ºC and 23ºC (73º fahrenheit) depending on the fatty acid composition. The colder the olive oil gets, the greater the number of molecules that will start solidifying. Cold temperatures is the reason some white crystals may appear in your bottle of olive oil, especially during winter months.
Does that mean the olive oil is not good to use?
Not at all! The olive is perfectly fine; in fact, freezing olive oil will keep it fresh for longer without causing any nutrient loss. The freezing process is perfectly natural and has no impact on the quality of the olive oil.
In colder homes and states in the USA, olive oil can freeze under normal conditions, especially during the winter. In these cases, don’t worry and just remember that it’s actually better to store olive oil at a cold temperature. Cold temperatures prevent degradation of the olive oil. If you buy the La Española Olive Oil , be sure to store it in the coldest place in your kitchen or pantry, to keep it as fresh as the first day you got it.
If you have frozen oil, you can bring it back to liquid form again, by gradually raising the temperature back to above 23ºC (73º fahrenheit). Remember, the solidification process of freezing olive oil is absolutely reversible and won’t result in quality loss.