What’s the difference between Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Olive Oil is a hot commodity right now, it’s a huge component of the Mediterranean diet, you can’t help but hear about healthy fats and the Keto diet and then there’s all the health benefits that come with it. Studies have shown that regular consumption of olive oil may lead to a reduced risk of certain types of cancer, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimers disease, for certain people. However, you have to be certain of the quality of your oil or you won’t receive any of these benefits.
So what’s the difference in all these different olive oils and what’s all the fuss about the extra virgin?
At its core, olive oil is the oil that’s obtained from the fruit of the olive tree. What sets apart the different varieties of olive oil is not the type of olive but the process to extract the oil. It is also graded by the level of acidity or free oleic acid which indicates the extent to which the fat is broken down into fatty acids.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), like Papa Vince’s oil is made by cold pressing the olives (no heat involved) to extract the oil. This is a time consuming process and results in a vibrant forest green oil with a grassy, peppery flavor and a fruity grand aroma. A premium quality EVOO will contain a high level of antioxidants as well as vitamins K and E.
The FFA (free fatty acid) content must be lower than 0.8% to meet the industry standard to be classed as Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Premium EVOO has a percentage lower than 0.3%. Have you looked at your bottle of Papa Vince EVOO? Our FFA content is less than 0.26%, you can rest assured that you’re getting the very best premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Virgin Olive Oil as may be suggested by its name, is inferior to Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If the oil has minimal defects and an acidity level between 0.8 and 2% it can be labelled as Virgin.
Olive Oil is made from any cold pressed oil that doesn’t meet the Extra Virgin or the Virgin standard. It is refined (which implies a chemical process) to get rid of any impurities and this generally leaves the oil with a more neutral flavor, a lighter color and a significantly reduced nutritional value. Before bottling it is blended with a small amount of premium EVOO (typically less than 5%) and labelled as Olive Oil or Pure Olive Oil. Oils of this quality have a longer shelf life and many of the antioxidants and vitamins are stripped away during the processing of the olive oil.
Lite olive oil, the name insinuates that this oil has a lower calorie content but it actually refers to the lighter color and the flavor of the oil.
What to look for when shopping for your EVOO?
- You’ve heard it before but it’s definitely true with olive oil, you get what you pay for! If it’s too cheap, there’s a good chance you’re getting inferior oil.
- Color can be deceptive. You can’t tell good quality olive oil just by looking at it.
- Single region of origin - check the label for the actual origin of the oil. A single region tends to indicate a higher quality of olive oil. Don’t be fooled by the name on the bottle, it may state ‘imported from Italy’ but all this may mean is that the oil was bottled in Italy, the olives were not necessarily grown there.
- Harvest Date - this should be marked on the bottle and your premium EVOO will be good for 3-4 years after the harvest date. This also depends on the concentration of polyphenols and the EVOO must be kept in a dark colored glass bottle and stored in a cool place. Once your bottle is opened you should consume the oil within 2-3 months.
- Most important are the Polyphenols - these are the antioxidants in the EVOO that are tasted at the back of your throat. Here you will notice a peppery kick, and the stronger this is, the higher the concentration of polyphenols in the oil and you may even find yourself coughing when you taste it! This is a sign of real Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
If you have any questions about Papa Vince Extra Virgin Olive Oil or you'd like to visit our olive orchards in Santa Ninfa, Sicily, Italy, contact us at papavince.com.
This article was composed using a variety of resources including:
The Healing Powers of Olive Oil by Cal Orey