Olive oil, how to choose?

How to choose a good olive oil among a large variety offered on the food shelves?

Photo by Roberta Sorge

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Virgin or Extra virgin, that is the question?

A virgin olive oil has a taste of ripe fruit, that of olives harvested at the end of the season. An extra virgin olive oil has a herbaceous taste and ardence, two quality indicators for olive oil. The ardence indicates the presence of antioxidants, presumed to be beneficial for health. Good oil tasted when it is raw and freshly extracted, right after grinding, irritates the throat strongly.

But the ardence and the bitterness can be created artificially, it is necessary to look for the indicator of quality on the label: PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), TSG (Traditional Specialities Guaranteed) or the intermediary (who has verified each stage of production) to choose with confidence.

Cold pressure or cold extraction

Pressure and extraction are methods that retain the juice. The pressure is an old method. The paste is obtained by crushing the olives under the weight of a stone. However, this traditional practice is more difficult to adapt to current harvest volumes. Extraction, a modern method, is done by centrifugation. The machine is able to absorb large quantities at a rate that the mill cannot follow. But the time between the harvest and the press is most important. It will, in large part, define the quality of the oil. Indeed, once harvested, the olive transpires, ferments, oxidizes and may rot if the processing is too long.

In both cases we talk about a cold temperature. The temperature covers the entire production line. Defined by the European Codex, it is currently at 30 °C. Beyond this temperature, it is considered that the degree of alteration of the oil starts.

Which producer country to choose?

There is no championship between the countries. On the other hand, there is a wide variety of flavors on the market where the consumer is the first beneficiary. It's a matter of taste and, once again, the relationship of trust with the intermediary.

Preservation of olive oil

It is necessary to keep it in a dry place away from heat, moisture and light. Meeting these 3 criteria makes it possible to prolong its longevity of 18 months on average, but it depends on the olives, some are more resistant than others.