When it comes to olive oils, consumers often have questions: we are confused about what is right, worth our money, and healthy for us on the market. Which oil is the best? What to buy?
If you want to learn more about how to recognize genuine extra virgin olive oil, visit the House of Olive Oil in Pula. There, you will compare different olive oils and learn what the positive characteristics are and what the defects are in sensory analysis, or through tasting olive oil with your own senses of smell and taste.
It is precisely because of such questions that it is necessary to clarify the specific differences and characteristics of individual types of edible olive oils. Today, on the market, we can find olive oils labeled as olive oil, virgin or extra virgin olive oil. But what is the difference, especially the difference among different extra virgin olive oils that vary greatly in price?
So, let’s start from the beginning.
According to international classification, the olive oils we use for nutrition are divided into:
Oil labeled as “Olive Oil” is the lowest quality oil obtained from overripe and damaged olives. Such oil, after processing, shows a high level of free fatty acids, more than 2 grams per 100 grams of oil, and it is not for human use. Due to its historical use, we call it “lampante,” because in Roman times, such oil was used for lighting in oil lamps.
Today, such oil is sent to refineries to chemically remove all negative elements from the oil and make it edible oil. A similar refining process is done for olive or sunflower oil. After the refining process, it is mixed with virgin olive oil and placed on the market as Olive Oil. On the labels of such olive oils, you will always find a mark that the oil is refined. And this is a legal or legally allowed process.
So, Olive Oil is oil that undergoes chemical processes to be suitable for human use, and it has no special value for human health.
Virgin and extra virgin olive oils are obtained by proper production and processing of olive fruits without any subsequent chemical processes. After processing, the oils are sent for chemical analysis to determine the amount of free fatty acids and the peroxide number. Based on these parameters, the oil falls into the category of virgin or extra virgin olive oil.
Free fatty acids indicate the extent to which the oil’s stability is compromised. Oil obtained from healthy fruit through proper processing immediately after harvesting will have low values.
The peroxide number tells us about the oil’s durability. Oil with a high peroxide value will oxidize faster and be suitable for consumption for a shorter time.
Extra virgin olive oil may contain a maximum of 0.8 grams of free fatty acids per 100 grams of oil. It must also have no defects in aroma and taste, which is determined by sensory analysis.
Virgin olive oil is oil obtained directly from the olive fruit and contains a maximum of 2 grams of free fatty acids per 100 grams of oil. Sensory analysis of virgin olive oil will reveal certain defects in aroma or taste. The most common defects in this oil are mustiness, vinegary smell, or moldiness, which occur during processing or later due to poor oil storage.
The problem and fraud in the extra virgin olive oil market occur when the lowest category of oil obtained by refining is mixed to a greater extent with virgin or extra virgin oil to meet the chemical analysis requirements for the oil to be labeled as extra virgin olive oil. Such oils have defects in aroma and taste, and the average consumer can generally recognize them by using sensory evaluation, or by assessing their aroma and taste.
To sum it up: what is extra virgin olive oil? It is a unique oil obtained by proper processing of healthy olive fruits, pure olive juice. It must have no defects in aroma or taste, and the parameters of such oil after processing usually do not exceed 0.4 grams of free fatty acids per 100 grams of oil.