Does The “Fridge Test” Tell If Your Olive Oil Is Fake?

Does The “Fridge Test” Tell If Your Olive Oil Is Fake?
Does The “Fridge Test” Tell If Your Olive Oil Is Fake?

Olive oil is nothing short of a pantry staple—both for its use while cooking on the stovetop or in the oven, as well as its versatility when used on its own for dressing salads and drizzling over dips. The rich, peppery flavor and pure quality is unmatched, allowing a good extra virgin olive oil to be a standout ingredient unlike other oils.

However, once it became known (via a study by UC Davis) that up to 70 percent of the extra virgin olive oil on the market is counterfeit in some way, people started wondering just how to tell if their extra virgin olive oil was, in fact, real or fake—particularly since they are paying for it and ingesting it. While that can be a difficult task, some home cooks and chefs swear by a quick at-home method, called the “olive oil fridge test.”

Here’s how it works, and if it works, for those hoping to try at home.

What Is the “Olive Oil Fridge Test?”

The basis of this testing method stems from the fact that authentic EVOO should be composed of 100 percent monounsaturated fats, which would coagulate and solidify at refrigerated temperatures, unlike polyunsaturated oils such as vegetable, nut, and seed oils. (These lesser-quality oils are the most commonly used to dilute and degrade many olive oils that line the shelves at grocery stores.)

Therefore, by placing your bottle of extra virgin olive oil in the refrigerator overnight, it should theoretically solidify, proving that your bottle is made up of 100 percent monounsaturated olive oil and nothing else. If it does not solidify, it would potentially indicate that there might be polyunsaturated oils, such as vegetable or seed oils, mixed in.

If you perform this test on a bottle of what appears to be an authentic oil, and it works, then you can most likely rest assured. However, is the olive oil fridge test always foolproof and reliable? Maybe not.

Does the “Olive Oil Fridge Test” Work?

While the premise of the “olive oil fridge test” seems to be true at face value, the makeup of olive oils can be drastically different depending on where they come from and how they were produced. For example, some producers filter out the natural waxes in olive skin to help “winterize” the olive oil to be less prone to coagulation, even though it could be 100 percent authentic.

On the other hand, some olive oils could be nefariously mixed with just a bit of canola oil, which has a solidifying temperature more similar to olive oil than other vegetable and seed oils, thus resulting in an unauthentic oil that might still mostly solidify in the refrigerator, thus nullifying the test’s veracity.

In short, the “olive oil fridge test” is not foolproof, and most olive oil producers or experts would urge caution when employing, instead recommending other ways to tell if your EVOO is real or fake. However, if curiosity motivates you, you can attempt the fridge test for yourself, while also relying on other methods of confirmation.

Other Ways To Tell If Your Olive Oil Is Real

Check the Harvest Date and Location

As a rule of thumb, most producers recommend that a harvest date should be stated on the bottle, and if the olive oil was harvested within the past 15 months, it is a good indicator that it is fresh and has not been sitting in a warehouse somewhere before bottling, thus degrading the flavor and quality. Furthermore, check where the olive oil comes from, and never purchase an olive oil that is “from” multiple places or countries. Additionally, if there is no indicator of where your olive is from or it does not denote “extra virgin” on the bottle, that might be a red flag.

Check the Bottle Color

While certainly not the most foolproof method, it is common knowledge that EVOO is best stored and preserved in darker (such as dark green) or opaque glass bottles. Therefore, start by staying away from clear plastic bottles boasting authentic olive oil, because most producers would never deign to agree to olive oil being stored that way due to sunlight speeding up degradation. It’s not an obvious answer, but a good place to start.

Buy Local

The best way to know exactly where your olive oil is from and what it is made of is to purchase local olive oil. While not as prevalent in all states, odds are you might be able to find a local producer at your farmers’ market somewhere in your region. For example, in Texas you can stock up on award-winning oils at Texas Hill Country Olive Co. or Texas Olive Ranch. In Georgia, you can find small-batch olive oil from Georgia Olive Farms. (They also ship.) Ask questions about local producers’ processes, and feel good about supporting local businesses!

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