EXTRA VIRGIN, VIRGIN AND PURE OLIVE OILS – differences
1. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL is of exceptional quality, aroma, and taste. This oil comes from the first pressing of the olives. During this processing, no chemicals or hot water are used. Acidity levels should be at 0.8 percent or lower. About 70 percent of Greek olive oil is extra virgin.
2. VIRGIN OLIVE OIL also comes from the first pressing. It offers fine aroma and taste, but the quality is not so exceptional. Its acidity can be up to 2 percent, which means, that it’s less mild.
3. “PURE” OLIVE OIL is a blend of virgin and refined oils. The label will typically say “pure” or “100% pure.” It is not technically inaccurate, because, it’s all olive oil, but not – pure virgin oil. The acidity level is about the same. There’s an advantage of this type of olive oil: it withstands high temperatures pretty well, so it’s suitable for some types of cooking.
4. There’s also OLIVE POMACE OIL. The pomace is what’s left of the olive after the good parts have already given their oil. It’s cheap and of poor quality.
In order to answer the question “What is the best extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)?” it’s necessary to know extra virgin olive oil characteristics, how to recognize the real from fake ones, which brands have passed EVOO standards, which ones failed etc. Let’s start with some basic EVOO info.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL – BASIC INFO:
Extra virgin olive oil is an essential component of the healthy Mediterranean diet. It is packed with natural vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and can improve heart health and overall health while reducing the risk of certain types of cancer. The most important EVOO benefits: extra virgin olive oil contains good fats (Omega-3) – great for heart health, may protect from depression, may prevent osteoporosis etc. It is also renowned for its role in promoting longevity.
A recent research has added a new, valuable health benefit: Omega 3 may protect eyes from glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to your eye’s optic nerve and gets worse over time. …
Extra virgin olive oil tastes delicious. Regarding all mentioned health benefits, we justifiably call it Superfoods.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil must come from fresh olives that were milled within 24 hours of their harvest.
- They must not be treated chemically in any way. It must be extracted by mechanical means, i.e. cold pressed.
- EVOO is, in fact, fresh olive juice.
- Being a fruit, olives contain natural antioxidants that protect the plant during its lifetime. When the olive tree is very old it contains more of these antioxidants.
Extra virgin olive oil is NOT processed (refined), i.e. treated chemically or another way. Having in mind that any procedure, chemical or other, has its cost which increases final product price, we inevitably confront one question… Although not refined, EVOO’s price is constantly very high – how is that possible?
Here’s a simple explanation of this unusual “phenomena”: Authentic extra-virgin olive oil takes a lot of time, expense, and labor to make. Secondly, EVOO has such an amazing characteristics, nutrient value and health benefits, that it is always of the highest demand and its price, therefore, remains at the highest level. This great product cannot be replaced by any product with lower characteristics / or nutrient value…. if you search for the best quality and don’t compromise on it.
TIPS FOR RECOGNIZING REAL EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
As you read above, not all olive oil is the same, so it’s very important to purchase the right type of olive oil. The problem is: How could we know if it is the real thing?
HERE ARE SOME USEFUL TIPS:
- Do not buy light olive oil or a blend – it isn’t virgin quality.
- When EVOO has a low price, it may not be real.
- Look for a seal from the International Olive Oil Council (IOC)
- Look for a harvesting date on the label.
- Only buy oils in dark bottles, as this protects the oil from oxidation.
HOW TO TEST EVOO?
Olive oil can get old and rancid. A simple test for a “good” olive oil is to taste a little on a spoon. Not rancid, real olive oil will have a fruity taste in taste in the front of your mouth and a peppery taste in the back of your mouth.
I’ll share with you another simple test… This test refers to choosing your favorite EVOO brand: try EVOO over a Greek Feta /or other creamy cheese or over sliced, fresh tomato. For some reason, this method gives the best possible results regarding someone’s choice. I believe that this (specific) combination of tastes: Feta and EVOO or tomato and EVOO, give us the best “picture” /idea of chosen EVOO brand: its flavor and aroma. You can try 2 or 3 different brands this way (not necessarily at the same time). You’ll find your favorite EVOO brand, which will add awesome taste and aroma to your plate.
ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Read the label to be assured of excellent quality. It should clearly state “Extra Virgin Olive Oil.” The acidity level should be at or below 0.8 percent. Look for the area or region where the oil was produced and verify that it is, indeed, from the country of your preference.
WAYS TO USE
- The best way to use Extra Virgin Olive Oil is – in salads.
- For cooking -I suggest 50:50 mixture: olive oil & some seed oil. Prepare it for cooking, in the separate bottle (1/or 2-liter bottle). For sauces – you can use EVOO.
- For baking – it’s better to use butter
- Frying – no. It’s better to use some seed oil.
- On the grill – you can use above mentioned 50:50 mixture.
You should be aware of the fact, that much of the nutritional value we associate with olive oil, such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, are destroyed by the heating process. And if you’re buying pricier olive oils, using them to deep-fry, you’ll lose those subtleties anyway.
So… Olive oil used for dressings, sauces and drizzling over fresh vegetables, salads and cheeses should be fine-quality extra virgin olive oil. This will allow you full enjoyment of the exceptional taste and aroma.
For cooking over high heat when the aroma is degraded, consider a lower grade, less expensive oil – better able to withstand these temperatures or 50:50 mixture (EVOO & seed oil).
OLIVE OILS THAT PASSED EVOO STANDARDS
In America, $ 1,5 billion a year is spent on olive oil. According to “Olive Oil Times”, for the first 11 months of the 2015/16 crop year, the U.S. imported 306,844 tons of olive oil mostly from Spain and Italy. Unfortunately, not all olive oils meet extra-virgin standards. Most of olive oils on the market are cut with cheap vegetable oils. These oils smell and look like olive oil by adding a few drops of chlorophyll and beta-carotene making it part of the olive oil fraud.
Olive oils that meet extra-virgin standards:
- Bariani Olive Oil
- Corto Olive
- Cobram Estate
- California Olive Ranch
- Kirkland Organic
- McEvoy Ranch Organic
- Ottavio etc.
Olive oils that failed to meet EVOO standards (according to independent tests at the University of California):
- Whole Foods etc.
It would be interesting to have a look at Consumer Reports (September 2012), published results of a taste test of 138 bottles of extra virgin olive oil from different manufacturers and countries: USA, Greece, Italy, Argentina and Chile.
Two highest scoring olive oils (both from California) from their testing were: McEvoy Ranch and Trader Joe’s California Estate.
OTHER GREAT EVOO BRANDS
Ellora Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the best olive oils. It is 100% Pure Cretan Extra Virgin Olive Oil of which the origin and authenticity is certified by the EU standards.
Kasandrinos Organic Extra Virgin Greek Olive Oil – 100% certified organic, non-GMO extra virgin olive oil from Kasandrinos century-old family orchard.
Partanna Extra Virgin Olive Oil is excellent, winning medals oil. It is cold-pressed, unfiltered oil grown and packaged in Partanna, Sicily. The Asaro family has been producing it since 1916.
WHAT IS THE BEST EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL? WHICH BRAND COULD BE THE BIG WINNER?
It is a simple question, without an easy answer.
My personal experience has to do (mostly) with Greek market because I live in Greece…. My family purchases olive oil directly from small Greek producers, who happen to be family friends (from Amfissa and Evvoia).
Almost all regions in Greece produce olive oil. But…. some regions have higher quality olive oils. Regions with top EVOO brands on both Greek and World market are Crete, Peloponnese, and Amfissa.
After having a research regarding possible EVOO Winner on World market, here is my conclusion/ result: my Big Winner is Gaea Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is made from Greek olives, with its floral aroma, and a flavor that evolves as the oil travels through your mouth. “It starts almost buttery, but has a nice strong peppery finish”.
IMPRESSIVE GAEA NEWS:
-Gaea products are already present on 20.000 selling spots in the USA.
-American “Cooks illustrated” after research that was including 1.000 olive oil samples has highlighted the GAEA Fresh as “Americas best premium EVOO”.
– Gaea has triumphed in the European Business Awards, in the import-export category (2013). It was the 1st Greek company to win in this prestigious competition. The judging committee chose Gaea amongst 15.000 companies from 34 European countries.
– Gaea ‘s EVOOs are the 1st Extra Virgin Olive Oils in the World that have been certified Carbon Neutral! (environmentally friendly EVOOs)
Click HERE to read my TOP 3 EVOO Product review.
MORE EVOO NEWS:
- It was announced that EVOO testing glasses will have New Color – for the purpose of olive oil sample appraisal! The color of testing glasses is very important. That color should not influence the quality or determine organoleptic characteristics of the product. In 2007. IOC (International Olive Oil Council) has decided this color be cobalt blue. Ten years later, company Elaia Zait and the University of Jaen gave a new proposal regarding the color of this professional tasting tool – to be red! The new tool was exhibited at Expoliva 2017.
- There’s a completely New Product, that people who have tried it, call “Absolute sin”. It’s… Smoked Olive Oil (!) Its production is based on a completely new method, that however, keeps olive oil quality and nutrients unaltered. This method has been recently patented in Greece, by E.Hristakis and his team (source:“EL” magazine).
- There’s also a New EVOO Package patented in Greece and very soon available on World market. This package reminds perfume bottle. Just imagine buying your Greek EVOO (from Peloponnese) in a perfume bottle. Personally, love the idea!
Stay tuned for our blog updates and important news.