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How to Open a Can of Olive Oil

Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy. These instructions will help you open a can of olive oil without any problems—and keep the oil in it fresh longer.

Olive oil is a staple in the kitchen; the queen of cooking oils and the assumed choice in most every cookbook recipe.

The uses for this fragrant, golden oil are limited solely by the imagination and ingenuity of the cook. Dress your salads, sear your steaks, sauté your mushrooms, or baste your home-baked breads with it. You can even use it to preserve chilies and anchovy fillets in it.

But to use it, you have to open it first! (Which, as it turns out, can be quite the challenge if the oil comes in a tin can.)

And once you’ve opened it, you need to know how to store it so it keeps for as long as you need it to lest it go rancid.

These are all the subtle—but important—practicalities of cooking with tinned olive oil that we’ll talk about in today’s article. So take a gander below if that’s what you came here to learn about as I know you did.

Opening a Can of Olive Oil

These days, almost all olive oil cans are fitted with a plastic cap that’s supposed to make it easier for you to open them.

Provided you’ve opened one before and know how to do it! If you’ve never done this, don’t fret. The step-by-step guide that I’m about to share with you will help.

How to open a can of olive oil:

  1. Pull out the two plastic handles with your fingernails
  2. Stick your index finger through the handles and slowly pull the cap up
  3. Unscrew the cap

Now let’s discuss the technicalities:

The thing to know about the plastic cap is that it’s concealed inside the can.

Usually, there is an outer ring, also made of plastic, with two perforated edges that you loosen with your fingernails and pull out with your index finger to form a couple plastic handles.

Once you’ve pulled out the two handles, grab onto them and pull the cap up. Be careful and pull with a slow, steady motion; these caps don’t respond well if you apply too much force (worst case scenario, you break the cap off and spill olive oil all over the counter).

When the cap is up, all you have to do is unscrew it—just like the cap on a regular plastic bottle—and the can will be open.

This technique is best demonstrated by Colin Dixon of Flatlands Olive Oil in the YouTube video embedded below:

I’d tell you it’s as easy as pie, but it really isn’t. 🙂

Storing Canned Olive Oil

Once opened, a can of olive oil should be stored in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight and sources of heat. This makes a kitchen cabinet and the pantry good options, and a windowsill and the top of the freezer or fridge bad options.

Olive oil is a shelf-stable cooking fat. Contrary to what some people think, there is no need to refrigerate it once opened.

With that being said, the purer the olive oil—and, of course, you want the purest—the quicker it is to go rancid. Unfiltered extra virgin olive oil is especially vulnerable as it still has tiny pieces of olives inside.

The solution is not to store olive oil in the fridge to make it last longer, but to buy only as much of it as you and your family can consume before it goes rancid. It takes a while to get this right, but once you do, it quickly becomes a house rule.

If you transfer some of it to a bottle as most home cooks do, make sure it is a dark-glass bottle with a screw cap. Keep the bottle away from the sun and far from the stove and screw the cap back on the bottle in timely manner whenever you’re not using it.

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Written by

Jim is the former editor of Home Cook World. He is a career food writer who's been cooking and baking at home ever since he could see over the counter and put a chair by the stove.