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December 13, 2021
How does extra virgin olive oil behave when exposed to cold? When extra virgin olive oil reaches 55°F, it will typically begin to cloud. At 50°F, most olive oils really begin to set up. At 45°F, it can become a gel, and any colder, it can look like a solid block. This doesn't just happen in one fell swoop. 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 in the olive fruit 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.
So, what to do if it happens to you? The good news is that coolness is not an enemy of EVOO; the quality is not changed by clouding or becoming solid. If you are in need of that beautiful liquid gold, but it has gotten cold, simply place your bottle lovingly in a pot of WARM, not hot, water, and it should return to its original state.
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