All you need to know about the different types of olive oil…

Different types of olive oil are produced by different methods of pressing. Here is some basic information on each type to help you understand the basic differences and what is best to use for what.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a monounsaturated olive oil obtained from the first press of the olives. Under European regulation, for an olive oil to be named ‘extra virgin’ it has to be cold pressed; the extraction temperature should be below 27⁰C. The lower the extraction temperature, the better the quality of the olive oil is with higher levels of nutrients. Extra virgin olive oil has antioxidant properties and is considered to be the best quality with superior taste with less than 0.8% acidity. It is best used raw in salads, for dipping and added in the food after it has been cooked, although it is good to also cook as long as it is slowly heated and not allowed to smoke. In most producing countries 10% of their olive oil is extra virgin. In Greece 80% of the olive oil produced is extra virgin, in Italy 45% and in Spain 30%.

Virgin Olive Oil is obtained from the second pressing of the olives. It has an acidity level of less that 1.5% and is characterised by good taste.

Olive Oil (or Pure Olive Oil) is usually a blend of refined and virgin production oil. It has an acidity of no more than 2%. It is of lower quality and lacks taste and color.

Refined Olive Oil is the olive oil obtained from high acidity level virgin olive oils, which have been refined to eliminate their defects. Even though no solvents have been used in the making of this olive oil, it is usually refined using charcoal and other chemical and physical filters.

Olive Pomace Oil is the oil that is extracted from the olive pulp after the first press, using an industrial technique used in the production of most other oils including sunflower oil with the help of solvents. Although this oil is still fit for consumption, it is considered of much lower quality. It has a more neutral flavor than extra virgin, virgin or pure olive oil, but it has a high smoke point, which makes is widely used in restaurants and home cooking.