olive oil terms and grades
Olive oil is the unadulterated juice of crushed olives and contains no additives or preservatives.
The finest olive oil is produced from the first time an olive is pressed. This is known as the first pressing. The remaining olive matter used to be pressed a second or even third time to squeeze the very last drop of oil from it. Today modern technology manages to extract just about all of the useful oil first time around to the extent that most olive oil is now first pressed.
Olives should be pressed at temperatures below 25 degrees centigrade to produce optimum quality oil with superior flavour. This is known as cold pressing.
Traditionally, olive oil was left unfiltered and cloudy. Today many, especially commercially, produced oils are filtered to produce a clearer more supermarket shopper friendly product. Unfiltered oil has generally a more robust, rustic and less refined flavour than filtered and is often preferred by connoisseurs.
The acidity in olive oil largely dictates the quality of the oil.Generally, the lower the acidity, the better the oil.
Extra virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives, is unprocessed, contains no more than 0.8% acidity and has no discernible defects in taste, colour or smell. There should be no refined oil in extra virgin.
Virgin olive oil is again an unprocessed oil with an acidity level of less than 2%. There should be no refined oil in it.
Olive oil, or "Pure" as it is sometimes known, is at best, the shadow of an extra virgin. Its flavour is disappointing. Basically, it is olive oil which, when pressed, is too acidic to be sold as an extra virgin or even virgin, is unpleasant to eat and, consequently, is put through a huge chemical process to refine it, leaving it colourless, flavourless, odourless and, not surprisingly, totally inedible. To give it some colour, taste and smell and make it fit for consumption, a little(20%-30%) extra virgin is finally added.
Light or mild olive oil is in reality an invention for the supermarkets. It is not lighter in calories, as you may be tempted to believe, only in the amount (c.10%) of extra virgin added after refining.
Olive-pomace oil is a blend of refined pomace oil and possibly some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but it may not be called olive oil. It is most often used for certain types of cooking in restaurants.
Lampante oil is olive oil not fit for consumption. It is mostly used in the industrial market.