09 January 2011

Frozen olive oil for breakfast

We often have these olives (with red peppers) for breakfast. The olive oil they are in is almost always frozen when the container is removed from the refrigerator. This is what the contents looked like this morning.

Olive oil is a mixture of numerous oils and other oil-soluble chemicals from olives. Because it is a mixture of a more or less variable composition, olive oil does not have a definite freezing point. My 1944 edition of Lange's Handbook of Chemistry (no, I didn't buy it in 1944) states that olive oil becomes turbid at 2°C and precipitates at -6°C. I measured the temperature inside our freezer several times in the past: it fluctuated around 3°C, although on one occasion it was down to 0.5°C.

What we had in the olive container this morning was certainly a semi-solid substance—its state was beyond turbid.

Ten seconds of microwaving restored the oil's fluidity and we had a nice breakfast indeed.


Fred Schueler said...

But who knows what a pre-1944 chemist meant by "turbid." It's not a term one frequently sees associated with freezing points.


When I get a chance I will experiment with olive oil near freezing temperatures.