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Jul 27, 2010 01:09 PM

Oil Storage

I live in a NYC apartment with a small kitchen (surprise surprise) and very little storage. As a way to make space, we mounted a metal shelf on the wall above our stove and countertop -- the only place in the kitchen it was possible. This is where I have been keeping things like oils, vinegars, salt, and pepper. Basically the things I use most often so it's nice to have them right on hand when I'm cooking instead of in the cabinet. Plus, most of the oils are too big for the cabinet space (not to mention the pantry is literally filled to the brim right now). But I know that really oil is supposed to be stored in a cool, dry place. We live on the first floor and the blinds are closed a lot, so they don't get that much light, but it's hardly dark like a pantry. And although we have A/C so the place is never sweltering, the shelf is right above the stove so when that's on I'm sure it gets hot up there. My question is, how truly terrible is this? It really is the most convenient place to keep those things. So far, nothing has gone bad, and we use everything often enough that nothing will sit out for a year or anything like that, but am I really significantly damaging the flavor of the oils by not keeping them in an ideal spot? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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  1. I know NYC is tough but you are right, it's less than optimal.

    Maybe you could focus on this space just over the stove for vinegars, salts, fish/soy sauce, and perhaps the one, small, most used bottle of cooking oil, and figure out another, more out of the way (not right above the stove) spot for other oils?

    2 Replies
    1. re: andytee

      yeah. it sucks because the olive oil is the one bottle that seems impossible to fit in cabinets (it's very tall) and also the one i use the most, yet i also think it's probably the one that most needs proper storage because i care the most about its flavor. is that the biggest issue, you think, with the storage? flavor deterioration?

      1. re: arielleeve

        heat will make it go rancid.

        maybe keep an eye out of a different bottle you can decant your olive oil into.

    2. I am always smelling my oils for any off smells. I keep mine in the frig for the most part. Your nose will tell you if they have gone off. As to whether you are losing flavor(without going bad), I think it would depend on how sensitive your palate is. Taste when just open and then later make a dedicated effort to taste again and see or if you have a new bottle you can taste end of bottle against the beginning. Flavor compounds can be very sensitive to light and heat. One thing I wish I would have room for is a refrigrated drawer next to my range.

      1. I wonder if your oil is actually turning bad or are you worried that it might? Depending on where you are in the city, i.e. close to your favorite shops, it might be enough to just buy less at a time. In general, when I have lived in NYC and other large cities, I only purchased the minimum amounts. For olive oil, I always search out a market that will refill my own bottle without the small bottle price per quart upcharge.

        1. If you buy larger sized bottles of oil, store them on the floor of a closet or pantry, but decant some into a cruet for everyday use. A small cruet can be kept next to the stove, or on your kitchen table, along with some vinegar - handy for cooking.