Sunday, October 9, 2011

What's the difference between olive oils

"What's the difference between olive oils?" that' the question we get a lot, so here we go.

First off, all of the oils are equally healthy: they're all 100% fat (9 calories per gram) and it's all monounsatured.

But the difference is in the flavor. Extra virgin olive oil is produced just by pressing the olives, without heating.
Extra virgin oil has the most olive flavor with the least amount of bitterness.

Virgin olive oil usually involves some heat and more than one pressing, and some unlabeled oil may involve chemicals to extract the oil.

Olive press in Pompeii (79 AD

The virgin and regular oils have less olive taste, but they don't as easily so they're better for cooking.
But extra virgin is usually used raw, since its flavor is lost by heating it.

Ancient Greek olive oil production workshop inTurkey

Pure olive oil or Olive oil is usually a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil, and lacks a strong flavor.

Olive-pomace oil is a blend of refined pomace olive oil and possibly some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but it may not be called olive oil.
Olive-pomace oil is rarely found in a grocery store; it is often used for certain kinds of cooking in restaurants.

"100% Pure Olive Oil" is usually the lowest quality available in a retail store: better grades would have "virgin" on the label.
"Made from refined olive oils" suggests that the essence was captured, but in fact means that the taste and acidity were chemically produced.

"Light olive oil" actually means refined olive oil, not a lower fat content. All olive oil has 120 calories per tablespoon
"From hand-picked olives" may indicate that the oil is of better quality, since producers harvesting olives by mechanical methods are inclined to leave olives to over-ripen in order to increase yield.

Cold pressed or Cold extraction means "that the oil was not heated over a certain temperature (usually 80 °F (27 °C)) during processing.

So, there is no "second" press of virgin oil, the term "first press" means only that the oil was produced in a press and not by other methods.

The label may may say that the oil was bottled or packed in a certain country, but does not necessarily mean that the oil was produced there.
The origin of the oil may or may not be marked somewhere on the label and it may be a mixture of oils from more than one country.