All of you must have noticed how olive oil is widely marketed as the healthiest cooking oil. And indeed, it is healthier than other cooking oils, as it is rich in monounsaturated fats and also consists of polyunsaturated fatty acids that can improve your cardiac health.
Using frozen foods, be it raw or cooked, has become a part of our lifestyle. But have you ever considered the possibility of freezing a cooking oil, say olive oil?
Does olive oil freeze? Yes, it does. Olive oil solidifies at the temperature around 37 degrees Fahrenheit. The process of freezing olive oil takes about one day to one week. It depends on the amount of oil you would be freezing.
After learning that olive oil can be frozen, you might have more questions arising in your mind. For instance, would the olive oil be ruined when frozen?
How can you thaw the frozen olive oil? Stay with us to find the answer to all your curious questions.
What is Olive Oil?
Olive oil is a type of liquid fat that is considered healthy due to the presence of monounsaturated fat and other antioxidants. Now, you might be wondering what “monounsaturated fat” actually means.
Well, just like polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat is one of the healthy fats. These fats contain fat molecules with a single unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule, i.e., each molecule has a double bond between atoms of carbon. It is also included in the list of dietary fats.
The monounsaturated fat is in the liquid state when it is kept at room temperature but solidifies when frozen. It is due to this property of monounsaturated fat, as a result, olive oil can freeze.
The various components of olive oil differ from one brand to another. Its composition depends on the extraction process, altitude, and time of harvest. It usually contains up to 83 percent of oleic acid with smaller amounts of palmitic acid and linoleic acid.
Usually, palmitic acid contains up to 20 percent of the olive oil, and linoleic acid contains up to 21 percent.
How is Olive Oil Produced?
Olive oil is produced by extracting oil from olives through various chemical and mechanical processes. The production of olive oil requires a high inspection of the olives used.
For instance, if you use green oils in the extraction process, the oil produced will be very bitter, while the oil produced by extracting black olives will have a milder taste. The worst kinds of olives that can be used to produce olive oil are the overripe olives; the oil extracted from them is always rancid.
Because the condition or type of olives used can affect the taste of the oil, it is vital to select them cautiously. For the production of good-quality olive oil, only perfectly ripe olives should be used.
Processes involved in the extraction of olive oil
Once the olives have been selected for production, these olives undergo various processes to extract olive oil. Given below are all the steps involved:
Step 1: Crushing of olives: In the first step in the extraction of olive oil, the selected olives are crushed.
This can be done using different tools and machinery, such as a disc crusher, pitting machine, knife crusher, and hammer crusher.
Step 2: Grinding and pressing: After the olives are crushed, the next step involves grinding them in order to create a fine paste.
Once the fine paste is ready, it is spread across fiber discs placed in a column. Thereafter, these discs are pressed to extract liquid from the paste, and centrifugation is carried out. However, the liquid extracted from the paste is not oil yet.
Step 3: Stirring and Second round of centrifugation: After grinding and pressing the crushed olives, comes to the process of stirring. This process is carried out in a special container where tiny oil droplets cumulate into bigger drops.
Then, the second round of centrifugation takes place, in which the oil drops are separated from the paste.
The time taken to form the olive oil depends on the exact method of extraction used.
Step 4: Removal of unwanted materials: The last step of the process is conducted after completing the formation of olive oil. The processed oil is filtered to remove any impurities or unwanted materials present in it.
Types of Olive Oil
If you’ve ever used olive oil from two different brands, you might have noticed a slight difference in their taste. Why do you think does it happen? It is because different brands use different olives harvested from various places.
There are various kinds of olive oils, and each one has different uses. In this section, we’ll learn more about these types:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality olive oil available in the market. In order to make this oil purer and give it a flavor rawer than the others, it is extracted through a purely mechanical process.
Extra virgin olive is used for salads, dressings, marinades and can even be drizzled over hummus and other dips. It is because of its superior taste and incredibly complex flavor that chefs favor using it in their dishes.
Virgin Olive Oil
Both extra virgin olive oil, as well as virgin olive oil, have “virgin” in their names; the only difference between their names is of an “extra”? But does this “extra” really make a difference? Yes, it does.
The most significant difference between these oils is the amount of free acidity in them. The extra virgin olive has a free acidity of 0.8 percent, while virgin olive oil has 1.5 percent free acidity.
But what does free acidity even mean? Free acidity is the percentage of free fatty acids present in a hundred grams of oil. Therefore, a higher value of free acidity indicates a lower quality of olive oil in terms of taste, flavor, and quality.
Virgin olive oil is used for pan-roasting and sautéing.
Refined Olive Oil
Refined olive oil is produced from the lampante virgin olive oil. It has been named so because the lampante oil has such an unpleasant taste and smell originally that it needs to be refined in the refineries.
After refining it, the final product is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless oil that cannot be consumed. Instead, it finds use in the hair care and skincare industries.
The Freezing Point of Olive Oil
Olive oil solidifies around 37 degrees Fahrenheit. It starts freezing from about a temperature of 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since olive oil is a complex substance containing different kinds of triglyceride molecules, i.e., fats molecules, it starts freezing at a different temperature and completely solidifies at another temperature.
It is because different fatty acids have different freezing points. The freezing points of oleic acid, linoleic acid, and palmitic acid are about 39, 23, and 145 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively.
When olive oil starts freezing, you can see crystals of its components appearing on the surface. It is also due to the variation in freezing points. After some time, you will observe several whitish, waxy solid balls forming inside the oil. Just like water freezes into ice, olive oil starts solidifying with white balls.
Does freezing olive oil spoil it?
Does solidifying your olive oil damage it? No, it does not. It is because when olive oil returns to its liquid state, its quality, taste, and raw flavors are unaffected and remain the same as before.
Therefore, you can easily use and consume the olive oil, which was frozen earlier, without any worries.
Can you preserve herbs by freezing them in olive oil?
Have you ever heard of preserving herbs by freezing them in olive oil? It sounds amusing, doesn’t it?
Suppose you have mistakenly bought a lot of herbs without thinking, and you want to preserve them. How would you do that?
By simply putting them in a container with olive oil. Besides preserving the herbs, the process will also impart the flavor of the herbs to the oil, making the oil richly flavored.
Before you begin freezing your herbs, keep in mind that freezing has no preserving effects on soft herbs like basil and mint. Only fixed herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano can be preserved using olive oil.
The following are the steps involved in preserving herbs using olive oil:
Step 1: Choose the fresh herb that you want to preserve and the extra virgin olive oil of your desired brand.
Step 2: Now, chop the fresh herbs to be preserved. Or you can even keep them whole if you like.
Step 3: Place these herbs in ice moulds. Fill only 3/4th of each ice mould with your herbs.
Step 4: Once the herbs are in place, pour your desired brand of extra virgin olive oil into each mould until they’re full.
Step 5: Freeze these moulds overnight.
Step 6: After freezing herbs in olive oils, remove the cubes from the tray and place them in a polythene bag. Now, place these cubes back into the freezer and take them out when you’re ready to use them.
How can you thaw frozen olive oil?
So far, we’ve learned about the possibility of freezing olive oil. But how would you be able to use the frozen olive oil?
The answer is simple. You just need to thaw it by bringing the oil to room temperature.
Now, we’ll be discussing ways of thawing olive oil, both in a bulk warehouse and in your homes:
Thawing in bulk warehouse
- You need to put the containers of olive oil in a warm room.
- Try to move those containers to a warmer spot like near an oven if it is a bakery factory.
- If the olive oil is in drums, you can use drum heaters to liquefy solid coconut oils.
The total time taken to thaw depends on the amount of frozen olive oil. It can take a whole day or even a whole week if the amount of olive oil is large.
Thawing in our homes
We usually buy bottles of olive oil from the market and not drums of it. The process of transforming olive oil from solid to liquid state is quite simple in our homes as the amount is small.
All you need to do is to fill a whole sink with warm water and place the bottle of frozen olive oil in it. It will take 10 to 20 minutes to convert the solidified oil into liquid.
Small floating particles can be found in the oil after defrosting it. You need not worry about it as those particles are natural molecules of olive that separate and tend to settle upon freezing the oil. These particles will disappear on complete defrosting, and you can use the oil normally.
In this article, we have learned that olive oil can exist in forms other than liquid as well, such as in a solid form upon being frozen.
Because olive oil contains different kinds of fat molecules with different freezing points, it starts freezing at a different temperature and is completely frozen at a different temperature.