Wondering what's the difference between extra virgin olive oil and all the rest? This guide is for you!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
EVOO is considered the highest quality olive oil. EVOO is fruity and aromatic. Good EVOO should have a peppery bite! The exact taste depends on the variety of olives the oil is made from (there are lots of different varieties of olives! Some olive varieties are more peppery than others and even somewhat bitter.
EVOO is perfect for drizzling over salads. It's heavenly for dipping bread. It enhances the natural flavors of food. Yes, you can use EVOO to cook and even to bake! It all depends on the olive variety.
How EVOO is made
EVOO is made from freshly harvested olives without the use of chemicals or excessive heat. Very high quality EVOOs (such as Holive Oil) are made without heating the olives at all. This is called "cold press."
To be called EVOO, olive oil must have a low acidity level (less than 0.8%). Acidity refers to the amount of certain compounds naturally found in olive oil called "free fatty acids." Holive Oil's acidity level for example is 0.28%.
To make EVOO, olives are crushed into a paste and then placed in a horizontal centrifuge. The centrifuge spins rapidly. This pushes the water and solids to the outer edges while the olive oil collects in the middle.
Virgin Olive Oil
Virgin olive oil is also made by pressing olives. The difference is that is has a higher acidity level (up to 2%). The higher acidity might be a result of less precise handling during the extraction process or using olives of lesser quality. Virgin oil can be made with more heat and that affects the taste and quality.
Virgin olive oil can have a pleasant taste but it lacks the depth of flavor of EVOO.
Refined Olive Oil
Refined olive oil is made in an industrial process by heating and using chemicals to process olive oil that doesn't meet the standards of EVOO or virgin olive oil. This strips the oil of its natural taste and smell. Refined olive oil has a neutral and bland flavor. The process of refining can destroy natural antioxidants and healthy fats present in the original olive oil.
Olive Pomace Oil
Olive pomace oil is extracted from the remnants of olive pressing, namely the pulp and pits. It's not yummy but it is cheap.