Saturday, 26 July 2014

Unusual Food Waste on Food Waste Friday

It's been a looong looong time since I did a Food Waste Friday blog post. But as a blog ambassador for Zero Waste Week 2014 (check out the website here), all things wastey must go to the top of my agenda again, and that includes food waste. 

Most of the time now, we have our food waste well under control. But we're not perfect and every now and again something trips us up.

This week it's olive oil.

                                         

Now I never imagined that would be a food stuff you'd see me throwing away. I thought olive oil lasted for years. 

It probably does but here's the thing. When it's stored in a nearly transparent recycled bottle in the kitchen, it starts tasting funny. All this summer, I've been wondering why my salads had a decidedly pungent flavour. Yesterday when I poured some oil on my pasta, and the pasta also had the same distinctive taste, I finally realised that the dressing was the problem, not this year's lettuce crop. From there I narrowed it down to the olive oil.

As luck would have it my first summer holiday read happens to be a book entitled Talking to Zeus, My Year in a Greek garden by Jane Shaw. You don't spend a year in a Greek garden without harvesting some olives at some point, and on Thursday night the book answered all my olive oil puzzles. 




Jane Shaw's Greek garden mentor, Joy, asks her, "Oil should be kept in tinted glass bottles kept in a cool, dark cupboard. Now why is that?"

And Jane answers, "To stop light oxidising the oil. It would go rancid otherwise."

There we have it, rancid olive oil. 

I'm not going to stop using my recycled glass oil and vinegar bottles because I'm too fond of them but I will be keeping them safely in the cupboard from now on, with only a small amount of oil in, so that it doesn't get to hang around for too long.

Footnotes

I had a happy fifteen minutes wandering around the Filippo Berio website falling in love with extra virgin olive oil and the Mediterranean diet all over again. Olive oil really is wonderful stuff, full of wonderful things like monounsurated fats and polyunsaturated fats and antioxidants, and if, like me, you're an olive oil fan, the website is worth a look at. However I couldn't find anything there about rancidity. For that I had to go to this Dr Mercola article, which has lots of information about shelf life etc. It seems that my favourite olive oil, the extra virgin, is more prone to going rancid due to higher levels of chlorophyll.

My oil and vinegar bottles were bought in Traidcraft's summer sale a couple of years ago. This year their sale ends tomorrow, 28 July, so get over there quickly if you like a fairtrade bargain!

(Lastly, nothing to do with useful olive oil facts but possibly the funniest fictional audio book I have ever listened to from the library features olive oil, and is of course, Alexander McAll Smith's Unusual Uses for Olive Oil . He's the most prolific writer and I've read and loved a lot of books from his various series but this was one instance where I felt that the audio book version was so well read (by Julian Rhind Tutt) that it was perhaps even funnier than the print version.)

Over to you: Any favourite culinary oils? Ever had rancid oil issues? Favourite summer reads? Favourite audio books?

12 comments:

  1. I didn't know that about oil. Thanks for the tip - I'll being moving our bottles into the cupboard rather than the open shelves. A pity as they look so attractive.

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  2. I buy my olive oil in a 3 litre, tinted bottle which is kept well back in a dark cupboard! I am new to audio books. I read books a lot faster than the audio book narrators can speak them, so I used to be too impatient to listen to them. I have to take a deep breath and slow my mind down!

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    1. I listen to audio books whilst I'm doing other stuff, like I'd listen to the radio, so I guess that helps with the impatience.

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  3. I have had no trouble with Olive Oil but my butter keeps going rancid this year ,I have had to start keeping it in the fridge. Trouble is I forget to get it out before I need it.

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    1. Oh dear! I've never had butter go rancid but when we have real butter in the house it doesn't tend to hang around for long.

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  4. Not often, but I have had oil go bad a time or two. I just read, "A Street Cat Name Bob". They just published in the US last year although I see that it's been a popular book in England and around the world for sometime. I enjoyed it.

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    1. My late mother-in-law loved the Bob books and we have her copies here. I haven't got round to them yet but I'm guessing they'd make an easy summer read.

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  5. Who knew that about olive oil? Wonder if it's the same about the other oils and vinegars that lurk at the back of the cupboard? On a very local note discovered that the Shed on A4 offers a refill service for olive oil- bring your bottle and they'll refill it.

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    1. I guess we'll only find out if you're prepared to get all thpse lurking oils out and leave them out in the sun...? I haven't been in the Shed since it changed from being Dick Willow's but the olive oil refill sounds great...I may just have to have a summer holiday Shed visit.

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  6. Hm. We keep our olive oil in a clear glass bottle across from our kitchen window and so far haven't had any problems with it going rancid, probably because we go through the bottle about once every couple of weeks. But I'm realizing we should probably move it to the cabinet! Thanks for the tip. Very interesting post.

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    1. Glad you haven't had any rancid oil issues! Thanks for commenting.

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