Olive oil is the base of the food pyramid in a healthy and balanced diet. Pillar of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is always present on our tables. In the sauce of ragu, in a marinade, for fried or simply on the salad. But there is a lot of confusion when we need to distinguish the typologies of olive oil. There are so many inaccuracies on the web that often confuse the consumer. This is strange, considering that the matter has been largely and precisely regulated by the European Union under Regulation 1513/2001.
The discipline divides the olive oil into six categories. To simplify, we focus on the difference between olive oil, virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil.
Olive oil, virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil
We know for sure that extra virgin olive oil is the best. We’ve always heard it at home, on television, the doctor, or the personal trainer in the gym: it’s true! But why?
This is the first distinction regarding the difference between virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil. Both are part of the category of virgin oils. Virgin oils are obtained through a mechanical extraction process. Do not undergo treatments by using solvents or other chemical processes.
The only treatments that can undergo are washing, decanting, centrifuging and filtration. The essential condition is that the oil does not undergo any alteration.
What is the difference between virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil?
The answer is acidity.
– Extra virgin olive oil. Must have all of the above described characteristics and the amount of oleic acid can reach up to 0.8g per 100g.
– Virgin olive oil. In addition to the characteristics of its class, it must have a quantity of oleic acid of up to 2g per 100g.
It is important to understand that the acidity we perceive simply by our palate does not always correspond to the real one that is the result of careful chemical analysis.
Now that we know the difference between virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil we can understand their difference with olive oil.
The Olive Oil
When you see the supermarket in the label Olive oil means that it is an oil obtained by mixing refined olive oil with a virgin olive oil. It has an oleic acid content not exceeding 1 g per 100 g. Olive oil is the result of the mixing between refined olive oil and virgin or extra virgin olive oil.
Oil refining takes place through chemical processes on oils obtained from olives that may have defects or on oils that have a content of oleic acids such that they can not fall into the category of virgins.
Olive oil, even if has a lower acidity content than the extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil, is inferior quality oil because it is a blend of oils obtained by different processes.
We conclude with a provocative question: is extra virgin olive oil ever better than virgin olive oil?
The answer is that extra virgin olive oil is always better than virgin olive oil if you look at the acidity parameter. But if you look at the organoleptic and taste characteristics surely the extra-virgin olive oil, hidden in the shelves of a supermarket, will no better of a virgin olive oil produced by a farmer who knows and cares his olives to one by one.
Good choice and good bruschetta!