Where Do You Keep Your Olive Oil?

Culinary Questions Meet Midlife Uncertainty

Olive oil in a dish

Both the mighty and the not-so-mighty worry. Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet pondered lofty questions from his castle keep; I ponder less esoteric topics like how to keep olive oil.

Hamlet contemplated the unfairness of life and debated avenging his father’s murder by his uncle, now stepfather and king. He pondered life itself:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Poor Hamlet. Everybody’s got issues, right?

Take me. I’m no Shakespeare, but I too face grave, indeed existential questions:

To refrigerate or not to refrigerate? That is the question.
‘Tis better to risk rancidity or clouded, solidified olive oil?

These questions have occupied an outrageous amount of my time this week. I refrigerate olive oil, but it gets cloudy and solid, which is inconvenient. Impatient for it to return to a liquid state, I put it under the kitchen faucet with (I confess) the water on hot. This method of rapid “de-solidification” seems fine, but is it?

I texted one friend. She does not refrigerate olive oil – or “oo,” as she writes. However, by raising the question, I have made her insecure. “Should I?” she text-questioned.

I texted another friend. “No” was her two-letter reply. That’s what I like – a woman of firm convictions.

Sadly, I am not a woman of firm convictions. I govern my kitchen by consensus. So, I seek a third opinion, that of my husband. He is a firm believer in the refrigeration of olive oil.

Yet, still … I am not sure.

My adult children marvel at how much time I have spent mulling and muddling over such a seemingly mundane question. They just don’t understand that to a middle-aged woman, unable to control her weight, her children, or the fate of the world the idea of getting olive oil “right” is somehow both a manageable and therefore inordinately very important issue. When I was younger, I was much more decisive. Now, I hesitate more. I know the risks of wrong decisions. I know that even words spoken casually or in jest can hurt or come back to haunt.

“OO.” Oy! Oy!

I have a little plaque in my office. It reads: “I used to think I was indecisive but now I’m not so sure.”  It’s funny, right?  But still, it is kind of how I feel these days.  So, somehow the “oo” question looms large.

“Why don’t you just look it up on the Internet?” both children have asked.

They just cannot understand why I actually prefer communicating with friends about oo, instead of just looking it up on that all-knowing expert, the Worldwide Web. That go-to-the-web response is also generational. They don’t get my need for human interaction and human validation.

So, what do you, say Middle-aged Muddlers? What camp are you in?

To refrigerate or not to refrigerate? That is the question. Please reply.

(And once we settle that question, let’s talk about sponge bacteria – to microwave or not? It seems the experts are now saying “nay.” Alas and alack!)

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8 replies
  1. Rosie Aquila
    Rosie Aquila says:

    I didn’t realize this was a debate! I’ve always kept oo on the counter, perhaps I’m doing it wrong? Hmmmm. Another one to muddle over: ketchup. Where does it go!?!

  2. Karen
    Karen says:

    And then there’s the question of butter. And eggs. As I understand it, eggs in America should be kept in the refrigerator because they are processed in a way that some bacteria-fighting layer is washed away. I dunno. It is all to complicated for me. Let’s all just eat out!

  3. Dr. WAA
    Dr. WAA says:

    My EVOO is in a quart container in a cupboard over the stove. I keep a dispenser filled and by the range to use while cooking. Never had a problem with rancidity.


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