Clarification On Olive Oil

A couple days ago, we had an article about how your Extra Virgin Olive Oil might be adulterated with lesser oils. A study by the University of California at Davis used its food CSI lab to test oils. Along the way I talked about the different kinds of olive oil and how they are made.

Well, thanks to our well informed readers, we have some additional information I wanted to make sure you saw. I know now everyone looks at comments.

This is from Delores Smith, who I believe may work in the olive or olive oil business. Anyway, she has some great insights I wanted you to see:

Just an addition: the classes of olive oils (extra virgin, virgin, olive oil, etc.) are defined by international standards based on chemical lab test and taste test by trained professionals. The International Olive Oil Council located in Madrid, Spain, is an independent body of expertise and establishes regulations for quality.

Extra virgin, being the top class, must meet certain parameters; e.g., have a chemical acidity (broken down fatty acids) of no more than 0.8% and peroxide levels (indicator of oxidation) of no more than 20. In terms of taste, colour has nothing to do with it…rather for extra virgin there has to be no taste defects (metallic, etc.) and the mouth feel should not be heavy or pasty. Moving down the levels of quality, increasing # of defects are allowed as well as amount of acidity level, peroxide level, etc.

Quality depends on the amount of effort placed in each step involved…from cultivating very healthy fruit to storing in oxygen inert, temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks or similar material that will not interact with the oil. Today, the majority of leading producers use a two-centrifuge system and specially-designed mechanical presses (typically small producers will still use a stone press open to the air, or mats that are hard to clean and can easily affect the quality of the oil.

Thanks for the information, Delores. And I hope you can contribute more to The Bachelor’s Kitchen in the future.  If anyone else has some information about our articles, please feel free to add it.

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