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The Olive Oil Breakdown

WHAT IS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL?

Extra virgin is the highest quality and most expensive olive oil classification. It should have no defects and a flavor of fresh olives.

It must be produced entirely by mechanical means without the use of any solvents, and under temperatures that will not degrade the oil.

It’s not easy to produce extra virgin olive oil. A producer must use fresh olives in good condition and monitor every step of the process with great care. Extra virgin olive oil doesn’t stay that way: Even in perfect storage conditions, the oil will degrade over time, so it’s important to enjoy it within its two-year shelf life.

GOOD EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL IS…

FRUITY

Look for pleasant fruit flavors characteristic of fresh ripe or green olives.

Ripe fruit yields oils that are milder, aromatic, buttery, and floral, while green fruit yields oils that are grassy, herbaceous, bitter, and pungent. Fruitiness also varies with the variety of olive.

BITTER

Fresh olives oil will have a mostly pleasant acrid flavor sensation on the tongue.

PUNGENT

A peppery sensation in the mouth and throat is a sign of abundant nutrients in good, fresh extra virgin olive oil.

Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin means the oil was made by simply pressing olives. It didn’t undergo any of the industrial processes used to make ‘refined’ oils such as canola, sunflower, soybean and the lower grades of olive oil labeled ‘Pure,’ ‘Light,’ and simply ‘Olive Oil.’ Virgin olive oils that have no taste defects and pass strict tests in terms of chemistry can be labeled ‘Extra Virgin.’

Virgin olive oils that have modest taste defects and meets somewhat less strict chemical parameters are labeled ‘Virgin.’ Unfortunately, you don’t see ‘Virgin’ oils for sale because too often producers market ‘Virgin’ oils as ‘Extra Virgin’ to command higher prices. Until standards enforcement catches up with the practice, real ‘Extra Virgin’ will be hard to come by.

 

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