Appreciating Quality Olive Oil

Olive oil for culinary, cosmetic and medicinal use has been known since ancient times, especially in Mediterranean countries. There are different varieties of olive trees resulting in different types of olive oil.  Some olive oils are more viscous (thicker or thinner, some have a more fruity taste but in the end there is only one way to determine exceptional quality of oil…Its acidity level.

Olive oil is produced by pressing the fruits of the the olive trees. The quality of the fruits, the time of pressing , the method of pressing the olives, the conditions used during the pressing, the method of packaging…all of these items determine the acidity level of the oil.

THE ACIDITY OF THE OIL is a measure of the free acids present in the oil. The higher the acidity the poorer the quality of the oil. Poor quality olive oil is a result of using poor quality olives due to fruit fly infestation, delays between harvesting and extraction, careless extraction methods and heat used during extraction.

Acidity levels are measured as a percentage of grams of free fatty acids or oleic acid per 100 grams of oil.

Grades of olive oil.

Ultra-premium olive oil has an acidity level of 0.3% through 0.8%

Extra virgin olive oil has an aciditity of less than 0.8%

Virgin olive oil with acidity levels from 1.5% – 2%

Ordinary Virgin Olive oil with acidity at or less than 3%

 

Refined Olive oil comes from further processing and refining virgin oil  and has an acidity of about 0.3%.  An example of this would be Pomace Olive oil which is refined oil that has been obtained from the final pressing of the olives under high heat. It is definitely of inferior quality since the heat exposure affects the quality and vitamins in the oil.

The term pure oil is confusing and misleading. It is a mix/blend of refined and unrefined virgin oils. It is not a pure olive oil and that is why it is so economically priced.

So to get the best possible Olive oil try to get olive that has been obtained from :

  • Pressing of the olives that have been cold pressed shortly after harvest
  • Acidity levels as close as possible to 0.3%.
  • Knowing the date of production The more recent the better.  
  • Packaged in small dark bottles and stored in cool places