Extra Virgin Olive Oil About Olive Oil

Olive oil is an oil obtained from the olive, a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. The oil is produced by grinding whole olives and extracting the oil by mechanical means. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, herbal preparations, pharmaceuticals and soaps and also as a fuel for traditional oil lamps. Olive oil is used throughout the Mediterranean region and gaining popularity all around the world.
The grades of oil extracted from the olive fruit can be classified as:
Virgin means the oil was produced by the use of physical means and no chemical treatment. The term virgin oil referring to production is different from Virgin Oil on a retail label.
Refined means that the oil has been chemically treated to neutralize strong tastes and neutralize the acid content (free fatty acids). Refined oil is commonly regarded as lower in quality as compared to virgin oil; oils with the retail labels extra-virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil cannot contain any refined oil.
Olive pomace oil means oil extracted from the pomace (residue of olives) using solvents, mostly hexane, and by heat.
 
How to know your olive oil?
There are a number of factors which can help determine the quality of olive oil. The lower the acidity the better the olive oil. This is because a lower level of acidity means there are less of the unwanted free fatty acids.
Olive Oil production
The traditional olive oil production method involves grinding the olives using a granite wheel, with the resulting pulp being pressed through mats to achieve the oil. In most modern production the traditional wheel has been replaced with a grinder or gramolater which uses centrifugal force and is both efficient and clean. Less common systems include the use of needles which extract the oil while pulping the olives. Cold pressed olive oil means that the temperature during oil extraction did not exceed 27 degrees Celsius.
 
Some facts about Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Greece is the third largest producer of olive oil in the world. The majority of olive oil produced in Greece is extra virgin olive oil. The Greeks actually consume more olive oil per person than any other country in the world (Italy comes in 2nd with only half the consumption of Greece!). The Greeks have used olive oil in many ways for thousands of years. The olive tree, olive and olive oil have historical and cultural significances for the Greeks, they use olive oil for eating, in soap, as fuel for lamps, to christen their children and in many other ways.
 
Quantitative analysis
Quantitative analysis can determine the oil's acidity, defined as the percent, measured by weight, of free oleic acid it contains. This is a measure of the oil's chemical degradation; as the oil degrades, more fatty acids are freed from the glycerides, increasing the level of free acidity and thereby increasing acidity. Another measure of the oil's chemical degradation is the organic peroxide level, which measures the degree to which the oil is oxidized, another cause of acidity.
The grades of oil extracted from the olive fruit can be classified as:
Extra-virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. Extra Virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries; the percentage is far higher in the Mediterranean countries (Greece: 80%).
Irgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, has acidity less than 1.5%, and is judged to have a good taste.
Refined olive oil is the olive oil obtained from virgin olive oils by refining methods that do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams (0.3%) and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard. This is obtained by refining virgin olive oils with a high acidity level and/or organoleptic defects that are eliminated after refining. Note that no solvents have been used to extract the oil, but it has been refined with the use of charcoal and other chemical and physical filters.
Pure olive oil. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are usually a blend of refined and virgin production oil.
Olive oil is a blend of virgin and refined production oil, of no more than 2% acidity. It commonly lacks a strong flavor.
Olive pomace oil is refined pomace olive oil often blended with some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply as olive oil. It has a more neutral flavor than pure or virgin olive oil, making it unfashionable among connoisseurs; however, it has the same fat composition as regular olive oil, rendering it the same health benefits. It also has a high smoke point, and thus is widely used in restaurants as well as home cooking in some countries.
Lampante oil is olive oil not suitable as food; lampante comes from olive oil's long-standing use in oil-burning lamps. Lampante oil is mostly used in the industrial market.
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