Kitchen tip: olive oil

There are many myths about olive oil but there are a couple of hard and fast rules to stick by to make sure it lasts well.

And if you like to enjoy fine oils as much as fine wines, it's worth taking good care of as, like wine, olive oil will spoil. Air, heat and light are not good and make it oxidise. It’s actually pretty fragile and requires careful looking after – do so and it will last a very long time.

How you keep it is key to keeping your salads, marinades, sauces and dressings fresh, peppery and delicious.

- When you buy olive oil, the first thing to do is transfer it from the usual clear bottle to a dark or tinted one. Then, preferably, store it in the dark, such as a cupboard.

- This is the first stage in preventing the oil turning rancid. The second is to keep oxygen out and make sure the area exposed to the oxygen trapped inside your container is kept to a minimum – a narrow bottle will help with this. Make sure you cork it as soon as you’ve used it.

- Keep the bottle away from heat – leaving it next to the hob, where it might be most convenient is a definite no-no.

- Use it relatively soon if you can. After a year that expensive bottle you’re saving for a special occasion will have deteriorated quite a lot – losing lots of the good stuff it has in it.

- Finally, if you are unsure about your olive oil, check its smell and taste. A mouldy or wine taste indicates that the olives have been wrongly stored.

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