What Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)?

First thing to know: there is a big difference between the classifications


Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The best! Extra Virgin, the highest classification, can only be cold-press extracted and cannot be subjected to any heat. This oil has the freshest taste due to the lack of heat and chemical processing. Additional sensory and chemical requirements to qualify as Extra Virgin are as follows:

  • Chemical Requirements:  Acidity must be less than 0.8%.  High quality oils will have acidity levels less than 0.4% with some premium extra virgin olive oils attaining values of 0.1 and 0.2%
  • Sensory Requirements:  A trained, certified tester smells and tastes the oil to determine if there are any defects in the oil.  An extra virgin olive oil must have zero sensory defects.

Extra virgin olive oil provides the most health benefits, retaining all of the micronutrients (vitamins, polyphenols, and antioxidants).

 

Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin olive oil is cold pressed as well, but the quality is lower than Extra Virgin because the acidity level is higher.  The range for a virgin olive oil is 0.9% - 2.0%.  There are also sensory defects that a trained taster can spot, and fewer micronutrients.

 

Virgin Lampante Olive Oil

Olive oil that is not fit for consumption due to all the defects in the oil such as high acidity (over 2.0%) and oxidation.  For this oil to be consumed, it must be heat cleansed and refined with chemicals. 

 

Olive Oil

Refined olive oil that has been processed with chemicals and undergone heat cleansing.  This oil has very little taste or odor.  Once an olive oil has been refined it still has the benefit of being a monounsaturated fat, but all the micronutrients have disappeared.  Refined olive oil has an acidity limit of 1.5%.  This acidity percentage does not indicate freshness or quality as it does in an unrefined extra virgin or virgin olive oil.