Storage after processing is also crucial. Gone are the days of terracotta vases or orcie, glazed on the inside and usually scoured out with vinegar, which were not only easily cracked but also difficult to clean and to free from any undesirable odours (olive oil being particularly susceptible to these). Nowadays we use stainless steel containers that can hold several hundred litres. Here the wine industry has had an influence; on many large farms the space between the oil’s surface and the top of the container is filled with nitrogen to prevent contact with the air, oxygen being the enemy of oil as well as of wine. In our case, we use floaters on the surface of the oil to minimise the risk of oxidation.


The same risk is faced at the bottling stage, the solution being to use bottles with UV-resistant glass. This means that oil is sold in dark bottles, so you can only enjoy the colour when the oil is poured. It is important, though, to keep olive oil out of strong light, as it will change colour and eventually lose some of its chemical characteristics. Beware therefore of buying green oil in a clear bottle; after a few days in such a bottle green oil should have become yellow or golden. If it has not, then there is something at work that is not pure extra virgin oil! Cans, of course, offer this protection (and are lighter and safer to ship), but they do not quite have the same allure as a bottle.