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Olive oil and extra virgin olive oil

Apparently similar to the eyes of an ordinary consumer, olive oil and extra virgin olive oil actually have great differences. Before even delving into the definition, however, it’s important to understand the concept of “oil acidity” that we addressed in the previous article. Namely, the different commercial classifications that are made based on the percentage of “oleic acid” present in each oil.

Usually, quality oil has low acidity, therefore the higher the acidity level in the oil, the poorer its quality will be. As we emphasized in previous in-depth analyses, the acidity level is not the only and exclusive parameter for assessing the quality of an oil, but it certainly is a primary indicator that also determines the first difference between the two products. The consumer must also know that acidity cannot be measured by taste, in the sense that at a first tasting, except for a rancid product which is flawed with high acidity, it is not so immediate to recognize, however, there are basic rules that even a novice can use to recognize a poor quality product compared to a high-quality one. This is also because the level of acidity in an oil, whether it be virgin, extra virgin, or otherwise, is determined solely and exclusively through chemical analysis.

Returning, however, to the difference between extra virgin olive oil and olive oil, based on the chemical analyses of the oil, the difference between the two is that in the former the acidity level must be below 0.8% (0.8 g per 100 g), while in the latter it must not exceed 1% (1 g per 100 g).

The difference may seem imperceptible to most, talking about minimal percentages, but indeed along the production chain of the two oils, the difference is there and it is very important to know it. Extra virgin olive oil is in fact obtained directly from olives (healthy and fresh, which may seem obvious but is not) using mechanical processes, in the case of Frantoio Gentili it involves a highly technological cold Tecnoliva stainless steel crushing plant, while “olive oil” is an oil that exclusively contains olive oils that have undergone a refining process and oils obtained directly from olives.

It is therefore the result of a blend between a rectified oil, so called because it is obtained through a chemical/physical process aimed at eliminating chemical and organoleptic defects, and a virgin oil. The law does not specify a minimum amount of virgin oil that must be included in the blend, although it is usually a minimal percentage, essentially enough to restore colour, smell, and taste to the oil which, obviously upon careful olfactory and taste analysis, appears ‘flat’.

In general terms, therefore, EVO oil (acronym for Extra Virgin Olive Oil) can be defined as an oil obtained exclusively through mechanical processes, which ensure the maintenance of all the organoleptic and nutraceutical properties of the olive fruit. While olive oil is obtained from a blend (mix) of refined olive oils and virgin olive oils.

At this point, one might wonder, how can one tell the difference between the two types of oil without knowing the chemical-physical analyses of the products? To understand the real difference between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil, the first step is to open the containers of the two products and bring them to your nose. After the olfactory test, move on to the actual tasting: the oil should be kept in the mouth for at least 30 seconds and must come into contact with all the taste buds. In comparison, the difference will be obvious to anyone, if in the first one too much fruit and fragrances are not recognized, in the second one the scents of cut grass, artichoke and various notes that change depending on the cultivars are clearly recognizable, but definitely more intense compared to a virgin oil, which remains quite anonymous and flat both in smell and taste.

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