How to Choose the Best Olive Oil

Olives in Sacks after Harvest

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the highest grade of olive oil that an olive oil producer can obtain and is the best olive oil you can buy.. There are very specific criteria regarding production methods, taste, aroma and chemical composition that an olive oil must adhere to qualify to be called “Extra Virgin”. To be certified “Extra Virgin” an olive oil must

1. The olive oil must have no defects. The olive oil must have the perfect aroma, colour and flavour.

2. The olive oil must be extracted using only mechanical techniques, meaning no chemicals can be used in the extraction process. In addition excessive heat cannot be used (No higher than 28 degrees Celsius)

3. The olive oil must have a low acidity. The oleic acid level must be below 0.8%, although some regulators set this the oleic acid level at a maximum of 1%.

4. The olive oil must come from the first pressing of fresh olives, usually within 24 hours of first harvesting the olives.

The health benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil are the most of any Olive Oil, this is because they are high in vitamins and minerals, along with being very rich in antioxidants which are retained from the olives they are harvested from due to the gentle and non-chemical methods of extraction.

While a high quality extra virgin olive oil is perfect as a condiment for cold dishes or as a dressing for a salad, extra virgin olive oil is not recommended for cooking as it has a low smoke point, which breaks down the constituents of the oil, and therefore reducing its flavour and health benefits.

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Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin olive oil is the second highest grade of olive oil. Similar to extra virgin olive oils, virgin olive oil is required to be come from the first pressing of the olives and must be unrefined. Unrefined in this case, means that high heat or chemicals cannot be used to extract the oil from the olives. Virgin olive oils also have a higher oleic acid level usually between 1.5% to 2%.

Virgin olive oil has a slightly milder taste and a lower level of flavour intensity, but they still retain of the taste of the original olives.

Virgin olive oil though can be used for light cooking such as sautéing, unlike extra virgin olive oil. Although you can also use virgin olive oils as a dressing, we would not recommend this, as the reduced quality can really be told when compared to extra virgin olive oil when used this way.

The Olive Pit Stop only stocks the highest quality olive oils , so we don’t stock any virgin olive oils, but trust us, the premium you pay for extra virgin olive oils is worth it for the extra taste and quality they exude.

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The Best Olive Oil - Extra Virgin Olive Oil on a Table