How many types of olive oils are there on the market?
Everyone knows that olive oil is a vegetable fat resulting from the crushing of healthy olives. However, we are often unaware of the differences between the different types or existing commercial categories. Knowing them will allow us to choose but, above all, to know what we are consuming.
Have you ever thought that olive oil is better than the rest because it is refined? This is a very common thought that many consumers associate with the meaning of “refined”, which the Royal Spanish Academy defines as “outstanding, exquisite in a good condition”.
However, in this case the definition of this adjective does not correspond to reality and can lead to confusion. Below, we explain the different types of olive oils and their differences.
Commercial categories of olive oils
A great many definitions have been written about olive oil. For example, the International Olive Oil Agreement of 1986 attributes the designation “olive oil” only to the oil obtained from the fruit of the olive tree (Olea europaea L.), excluding oils obtained by solvent or re-esterification processes and any mixture with oils of other kinds.
For its part, the European Commission’s Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 29/2012 establishes the following definitions:
- Extra virgin olive oil
“Superior category olive oil obtained directly from olives and only by mechanical processes. Its acidity, expressed as oleic acid, does not exceed 0.8 g per 100 g”.
In short, it is pure olive juice or, in other words, an oil with a perfect organoleptic profile, free of defects and possessing positive attributes derived from the olive variety from which it is made.
- Virgin olive oil
That “olive oil obtained directly from olives and only by mechanical processes”. Its acidity, expressed in oleic acid, does not exceed 2 g per 100 g.
This type of oil presents some defect in its organoleptic profile, barely perceptible unless it is tasted by an experienced taster.
- Olive oil
Olive oil consisting of a blend of refined and virgin or extra virgin olive oil. Its acidity, expressed as oleic acid, is not more than 1 g per 100 g. This refined olive oil is obtained from the refining of defective oils, which have not reached the quality parameters.
Other chemical and/or thermal processes are used in the refined oil production process to eliminate aromas, flavors and colors. Therefore, olive oil is a refined oil without taste or odor which, mixed with virgin or extra virgin (10% – 20%), is marketed with the adjectives “mild” or “intense”, etc.
- Olive pomace oil
“Oil consisting of a blend of refined olive pomace oil and virgin olive oils other than lampante”. Its free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, may not exceed 1 g per 100 g.
It is an oil resulting from the refining, by chemical means, of the pomace – a by-product of olive oil production – obtained during the milling of the olive.
Now you know the four commercial categories that you can find on a shelf. However, if we are talking about definitions, there is another type of non-commercial olive oil called “lampante” (or refined).
- Lampante olive oil
Its name comes from its use in ancient times as fuel for lamps or lanterns. It is a defective virgin oil, whose acidity, expressed in oleic acid, is higher than 2 g per 100 g. Nowadays it is used for refining and, mixed with a small proportion of virgin or extra virgin, it becomes marketable, giving rise to “olive oil”.
The peculiarity of lampante olive oil is that it cannot be consumed directly once extracted like virgin olive oil.
Three important aspects
Now that you know what types of olive oils you can find in supermarkets, hypermarkets and gourmet stores, it will not be difficult for you to choose the one that suits your tastes and preferences, and even your pocket.
You should remember these three aspects:
- Olive oil is a mixture of refined and virgin oils.
- Only extra virgin and virgin olive oil can be consumed directly after extraction.
- The others, olive and olive pomace, need to be refined before they can be consumed by humans.
Never forget that the extra virgin is the highest category oil, a pure olive juice that harbors infinite health benefits. At Magnun Sess we obtain our extra virgin olive oil from the Picual variety, applying very strict protocols.