The O&O Guide to Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sourcing the right olive olive can sometimes be quite tricky, we are faced with labels which boldly announce things like; Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or Pomace Olive Oil. But from experience many customers are unsure of what these terms mean and whether they actually matter.
Two questions that we are regularly asked are; What is an extra virgin olive oil? and What is the best olive oil for cooking? We hope that this brief guide can offer an answer to both of these questions. So...
What does 'Extra Virgin Olive Oil' mean?
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the highest quality olive oil you can buy, and in order to be granted the prestigious EVOO title there a few criteria that must be met;
- It must be unrefined. Many olive oils are heavily refined and can be treated in a number of ways in order to remove impurities and general flaws. This processing removes much of the natural compounds that make extra virgin olive oils so healthy and delicious.
- It must contain no more than 0.8% oleic acid. Oleic acid content is used as a metric for quality. Too high a percentage suggests that the olive oil has been refined and lost a portion of the natural molecules present in pure olive oil.
- It must have no sensory defects.
All of these criteria are included in the EU's definition of EVOO which can be found here.
Because of these factors, extra virgin olive oil retains the full spectrum of compounds that make olive oil so unique.
Video: olive oil extraction at La Redonda, Zaragoza
What Olive Oil should i use for cooking?
Because of the complex mix of fatty acids in EVOO, it has a lower smoke point than many other oils. This means that the fats that it contains will break down into other molecules at a lower heat and potentially degrade the flavour of the oil or what's being cooked in it.
In our opinion extra virgin olive oil is best enjoyed drizzled on already cooked food, as a salad dressing, or with bread. It can be used to cook at lower temperatures, but when pan-frying or high-heat sautéing it is best to use an oil with a higher smoke point, such as olive pomace oil.
Our Olive Oils
We work directly with two producers of extra virgin olive oil, one in the north Of Spain in the beautiful Zaragoza region (La Redonda) and one the heartland of Italian olive oil production, Puglia (Oleificio Viesti). Working directly with producers gives us first hand knowledge and insight into the harvest and production methods used to produce the oil that we sell.
Image: Visiting Agroalimentos La redonda, Zaragoza
Olives are in fact fruits and like good fruit juices at their best when fresh, early each year around the January / February period our deli receives the oils that have been pressed in the previous Oct/Nov. Our new season La Redonda is now in stock and available for dispatch via our swift on-line service.
In late Febuary 2022 the new season of Vieste Oil will arrive including an exciting new range of infused oils.
For a full definition of the EU olive oil standards and a more detailed explanation click here.