In it's simplest definition:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is an oil that is made soley by the pressing of water washed olives with no other additives, it must have no defects and there must be some level of fruitiness.
In chemical terms it has to have:
• a free acidity level or oleic acid level of no more than 0.8% per 100 grams
• a peroxide level of 20 milliequivalent 02.
• It must be produced entirely by mechanical means without the use of any chemical solvents and under temperatures less than 86 degrees F or 30 degrees C which will not degrade the oil.
In order to pass as an Extra Virgin Olive Oil it must :
1. an official chemical test in a laboratory to meet the above requirements
2. and it must pass a sensory evaluation performed by a trained tasting panel (comprised of certified tasters like me!) recognized by the IOC. The panel must categorize the oil as free from all defects and also rate the oil to have some fruitiness.
What are the differences between the other Olive Oils I see in the stores??
In countries that adhere to the olive oil standards set out by the IOC this is how they are graded:
Virgin Olive Oil
• free acidity/oleic acid level of 2 grams per 100 grams
• comes from the "first" press of the olives
• an oil that consists of a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oils fit for consumption as they are with a free acidity/oleic acid level of not more than 1 gram per 100 grams
• comes from the second press of the paste left from the first pressing
Ordinary Virgin Olive Oil
• free acidity/oleic acid level of 3.3 grams per 100 grams
• comes from the third press of the paste left from the second pressing
• blend of refined pomace oil and virgin olive oils fit for human consumption with a free acidity/oleic acid level of not more than 1 gram per 100 grams
• Pomace is an oil that is produced by heating and chemically processing the waste product of the virgin olive oil after the virgin olive oil is extracted. They remove all defects in flavour and refine it until it is fit for human consumption.
`Pure Olive Oil, Light or Extra Light` olive oil are not olive oil classifications. They are marketing tools to make you think you are getting something you are not. Most oils sold under these marketing categories are mixes of refined oils and/or Pomace oils with some virgin oil. Generally they are made up of up to 95% refined oils and the difference in virgin oil. They almost always have no taste/flavour to them because the refining process strips the oils of all their defects and makes them taste of nothing. They market to the consumer as this oil being neutral or light tasting.
Lampante Oil (not fit for human consumption) this oil is intended for refining or technical use. Most oil that is categorized as Lampante gets refined until it becomes fit for human consumption and then gets added to many other oil blends.
• free acidity/oleic acid level of more than 3.3 grams per 100 grams
Refined Olive Oil = olive oil that has been refined by heat and chemical process
• free acidity/oleic acid level of 0.3 grams per 100 grams
Note: Canola oil (which is a genetically modified form of rapeseed) Canola was created in Canada and stands for Canadian, oil, low acid) and the oil is created by heating and crushing the seeds, then refined chemically with hexane. Finally the crude oil is then refined using water precipitation and and organic acid, "bleaching" with clay, and deodorizing using steam distillation.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL IS JUST PRESSED OLIVES WITH NO DEFECTS AND SOME LEVEL OF FRUITINESS!! THAT'S iT!!