"Tell me how you store your oil, and I'll tell you how you cook." —Wayne Gretsky —Michael Scott
Walk into anyone's kitchen, take a look at where and how they store their olive oil, and you'll instantly get clues as to what kind of cook they are. In the pantry in its original packaging with greasy drips down the side? They cook frequently, but don't like to clean up as they go along. Their roommate or spouse probably lives in fear of each and every dinner party and the pile of dirty dishes that follow.
Do they keep their ultra-fancy olive oil in a cabinet above the stove, or worse (!!) sitting on top of the backsplash behind their burners? Then they're the type who know how to read a label and a price tag but have never learned to taste what they're cooking.
But you! Yeah, you. The one who transfers their olive oil to a dark-tinted bottle, covers it with a hinge-top pourer, and stores it in a location that is out of direct sunlight and far from a heat source yet is easy to reach. I like you. You're my type of people.
The greatest olive oil in the world isn't worth a damn if you don't use it, and for my money, the easiest way to get yourself to start using up your olive oil is to store it in a way that properly protects it from oxidation while also allowing for easy, no-fuss access to pour whenever you need a little drizzle here and there. So what's the best storage solution on the market?
Olive Oil Storage Phase One: Get a Dark Bottle
There are really only two ways you can totally mess up really great olive oil. The first is by allowing it to oxidize or go rancid. Heat, light, and air are the enemies of olive oil, so however you store it, you should make sure that it stays cool, dark, and free from excess exposure to air. A dark glass container with a tight fitting lid is what you want for your daily use oils. I use empty red wine bottles that have been carefully cleaned and dried, though you can also find empty bottles designed for olive oil at kitchen supply stores or online.
If you buy your oil in bulk, those tin cans with tight seals are what you should look for. I keep my oil in their original containers in the back of my pantry, refilling my glass bottle as necessary.
The second way you can mess up your olive oil is by not using it, which means that any device that makes accessing it easier without compromising its quality gets a solid pass in my book.
Olive Oil Storage Phase Two: The Pour Spout
Tight-fitting pour spouts are the ideal solution here. They come in a number of shapes, sizes, and designs. To see which work best, I ordered the dozen most popular models off of Amazon and used each for a few days, judging them on ease of use (does the oil pour at just the right pace? Does it fit on top of my bottles nicely? Is it easy to clean?) and basic features.
I found that there's a surprisingly wide range of quality when it comes to pourers. The best pourers for the job have a separate air intakes for continuous pouring, with long metal spouts, and simple hinged lids designed to keep dust, air, and other debris from falling down into the bottle when it's not in use.
Surprisingly, almost none of the more expensive versions—models with counterweights on their hinge tops or fancier materials—worked as well as the cheapest of the bunch. Here are my picks.
These pourers have natural cork stoppers that fit snugly into a standard wine bottle. They pour quickly and evenly, giving you plenty of control. I've used these pourers for over a decade in the same bottle with no real issues other than the occasional cleaning (I just run it through the dish washer). The only downside? They won't fit into the top of a standard bottle of olive oil, which means that you have to transfer your oil to a wine bottle for them to work.
Coming in at about a buck cheaper than the cork pourers (and even cheaper if you buy them by the half dozen), these pourers have ribbed plastic stoppers that are designed to fit into any sized bottle lid. Like the cork versions, they pour fast and smooth. My only complaint with them is that the metal pourers pull out of their ribbed plastic sleeves when you try and remove the stoppers from the bottles, requiring you to pry the plastic out with your fingertips. It's a minor hassle for an otherwise great product.
If you don't want to bother to empty and clean your own wine bottles, consider buying a ready-to-fill bottle and pourer combo. These ones fit a half liter of oil and have a pourer that fits snugly and securely inside.
Of all the feature-packed oil pourers, the version from OXO Good Grips boasts the most. It has a high quality rubber ribbed stopper that is molded directly onto the base of the pourer (no chance of the stopper and pour spout separating as they do with the cheaper pourers). It has a rimmed spill guard to prevent your oil from dripping down the side of the bottle. It also has a lever arm that opens and closes the pourer, forming a completely air-tight seal when your oil is not in use.
The big downside? It pours oil very slowly. About a quarter the rate of a standard pourer which means that if you, like me, cook with olive oil all the time, you may get frustrated at how slowly it drizzles into the pan. On the other hand, it's the ideal pourer for your fanciest olive oil, the oil that you want to apply ever-so-sparingly to a finished dish.
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