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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Olive oil classification

Virgin
Virgin olive oils are the oils obtained from the fruit of the olive tree solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions, particularly thermal conditions, that do not lead to alterations in the oil, and which have not undergone any treatment other than washing, decantation, centrifugation and filtration.
Refined
Refined means that the oil has been chemically treated to neutralize strong tastes (characterized as defects) and neutralize the acid content (free fatty acids). Refined oil is commonly regarded as lower quality than virgin oil.
Olive-pomace oil
Olive-pomace oil means oil extracted from the pomace using chemical solvents (mainly hexane) and by heat.
Olive oil classification by grade
Extra virgin olive oil
Virgin olive oil which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams, and the other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard
Virgin olive oil
Virgin olive oil which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 2 grams per 100 grams and the other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard.
Ordinary virgin olive oil
Virgin olive oil which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 3.3 grams per 100 grams and the other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard.
Lampante virgin olive oil
Virgin olive oil not fit for consumption, which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of more than 3.3 grams per 100 grams and/or the organoleptic characteristics and other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard. It is intended for refining or for technical use.
Refined olive oil
Is the olive oil obtained from virgin olive oils by refining methods which do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure.It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard.
Olive oil
Is the oil consisting of a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oils fit for consumption as they are. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 1 gram per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard.
Olive-pomace oil
is the oil obtained by treating olive pomace with solvents or other physical treatments, to the exclusion of oils obtained by re esterification processes and of any mixture with oils of other kinds. It is marketed in accordance with the following designations and definitions:
  • Crude olive-pomace oil is olive pomace oil whose characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard. It is intended for refining for use for human consumption, or it is intended for technical use.
  • Refined olive pomace oil is the oil obtained from crude olive pomace oil by refining methods which do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard.
  • Olive pomace oil is the oil comprising the blend of refined olive pomace oil and virgin olive oils fit for consumption as they are. It has a free acidity of not more than 1 gram per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard. In no case shall this blend be called olive oil.
Other common terms
Cold pressed
According to EU Regulation 1019 of 2002, the term "cold pressed" can be used only if during malaxation and extraction the olive paste is kept under 27ºC (80ºF). Note, that heating the paste excessively increases yield but degrades flavor.
First press
First press is no longer an official definition for olive oil. A century ago, oil was pressed in screw or hydraulic presses. The paste was subjected to increasingly high pressures with subsequent degradation in the flavor of the oil. Today the vast majority of oil is made in continuous centrifugal presses. There is no second pressing.
Lite or light olive oil
The "light" designation refers to flavor, not caloric content, as all olive oil has the same amount of calories. It's flavorless and often low quality refined oil, making it an ideal choice for frying.
Blended olive oil
Most supermarket brands of olive oil are blended from oil from many different varieties, regions, and even countries. Because olive oil tastes differently year to year from the same grove due to weather, to create an oil that tastes the same blenders must take oil from many sources and come up with a recipe to create the same taste.
Unfiltered olive oil
Unfiltered oil contains small particles of olive flesh. Olive Oil aficionados claim this adds additional flavor. Unfortunately it causes a sediment to form at the bottom of the bottle which can become rancid, negatively impacting flavor and shelf life. Unfiltered oil should be carefully stored and used within 3-6 months of bottling.
Flavored olive oil
Technically, olive oil which has had herbs or fruits infused in them cannot be called olive oil. See the definition for olive oil above. According to IOOC regulations it must be called "fruit juice". In reality, few producers comply with this and you will see labels such as "lemon infused olive oil" or "Basil Olive Oil".
Early harvest or fall harvest
Olives reach their full size in the fall but may not fully ripen from green to black until late winter. Green olives have slightly less oil, more bitterness and can be higher in polyphenols. The oil tends to be more expensive because it takes more olives to make a bottle of oil. Because of the higher polyphenols and antioxidants, early harvest oils often have a longer shelf life and are blended with late harvest oils to improve their shelf life.
Late harvest or winter harvest
The fruit is picked black and ripe. The fruit may have a little more oil but it is risky because waiting longer into the winter increases the risk the fruit will be damaged by frost. Late harvest fruit is more ripe so like other ripe fruit it has a light, mellow taste with little bitterness and more floral flavours. Flavour notes of peach, melon, perfume, apple, banana, buttery, fruity, rotund, soave and sweet are often used.
Hand picked
This somehow implies that hand picking produces a better olive oil than fruit harvested with a shaker, rakes or row type harvester. Mechanical harvesting can bruise the fruit, increasing acidity, but mechanically harvested fruit can also get to the press quicker, which lowers acidity. Olives harvested with a hand-held pneumatic rake are usually considered "hand picked".

Olive oil mislabeling - deceptive terms and what they really mean
Below we give some very typical examples, that big olive oil brands are using to mislead the public.
"Imported from Italy" or "bottled in Italy"
This label creates the impression that the olives were grown in Italy, although in fact it only means that the oil was bottled there. More likely the olives were grown in Spain, Greece or some other olive producing country.
"Made from refined olive oils"
It suggests that the essence was captured, but in fact means that the taste and acidity were chemically produced
"100% Pure Olive Oil"
Sounds like a high-end product, but in fact is often the lowest quality available in a retail store: better grades would have "virgin" on the label. 100% pure olive oil usually is used for baking and frying, since high heat can destroy the rich flavor of extra-virgin oil.
"Lite olive oil"
It implies a low fat content, whereas in fact it refers to a lighter color.
"Production date "
The most important date is the harvest date, not the production date. Do not assume that they are the same. Some mass produced olive oil sits for years waiting to be bottled, so you are getting an old oil when you think you are getting a new oil.

George Gkekas | Brand and Business Development

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