What is Olive Oil?
Olive oil is a “fruit juice” produced by the pressing of the olive fruit. It is naturally high in beneficial Monosaturated fats and low in dreadful Saturated Fat.
Grades of Olive Oil
According to the international olive oil council, olive oils are graded on 3 things by a panel of skilled grading experts including: the amount of free acidity, their smell (aroma), and their taste qualities.
Virgin Olive Oil
This is merely a technical term of any olive oil that is produced purely from mechanical or other physical methods, under thermal conditions that do not cause any alteration of the oil. There are different grades of "virgin" olive oil that are further explained.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil is virgin olive oil of perfect aroma and flavor with a free acidity below 8%. Note: many of these oils are "commercial" extra virgin olive oils, blended to a standard maintained year to year, and to a price. They may come from different regions and countries. Other "single-estate" oils are often un-blended, more expensive, and very pronounced in flavor. Just like grapes from wine making, the flavor of these olives can change from year to year and field to field depending on soil, humidity, moisture, and other natural factors.
- Virgin Olive Oil/ Ordinary Olive Oil is virgin olive oil with a lighter flavor and a free acidity of levels up to 3.3%.
- Lampante Virgin Olive Oil (lamp oil) is poor tasting and poor smelling virgin olive oil with a free acidity above 3.3%. This oil is unfit for human consumption in its original state and needs to be refined to make it suitable as food safe. Generally suitable for "technical purposes" only, for example, textile or cosmetic industries.
Three further grades, lower than virgin, make up 90% of the world olive oil production:
- Refined Olive Oil from virgin oils, usually lampante oil, and produced using heat and chemicals. Minimal flavor and health qualities still exist.
- Pure Olive Oil and Light Olive Oil is a specific foodservice term meaning “oil fit for human consumption that is made purely of olive oil.” Minimal flavor and health qualities exist. Generally you will see Pure Light Oil on the grocery store shelf. The term “light” is strictly attributed to color and flavor has no attribute to health.
- Pomace Oil is made from debris left over after extraction of virgin oils. It is treated with solvents such as hexane, carbon sulphide, or trichlorethylene. Most discerning cooks avoid this category completely.