What does virgin olive oil mean?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What does virgin olive oil mean”, and how it differs from pure olive oil and extra virgin olive oil.

What does virgin olive oil mean?

When the olive oil is extracted from olives without the addition of chemicals, it is termed virgin olive oil. There is often less processing involved, which makes the oil retain its quality and purity.

Is virgin olive oil cold pressed?

Yes, virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil are both cold-pressed. Cold-pressed olive oil is extracted from olives without the use of heat or preservatives. 

Cold-pressed olives would stay at a temperature below 50°C. This preserves the nutrients and quality of olive oil and prevents it from being damaged.

What are the benefits of cold pressing olive oil?

  • Cold-pressed olive oil would retain antioxidants as well as vitamins like vitamins A, E, and K.
  • It is more environmentally friendly as refined olive oils require a higher temperature and more chemicals while processing.
  • Cold-pressed oils contain a higher amount of monounsaturated fatty acids which prevents the oils from undergoing rancidity. 

How to detect virgin olive oil while buying?

Few factors could help you in separating fake virgin olive oil and original olive oil.

  • Look whether the virgin olive oil is certified. For this, you would have to look for the certification from the International olive council in the packaging of the oil. Also, check if it is labeled appropriately.
  • The cost of the oil would also determine whether you are buying virgin olive oil or not. Virgin olive oils are pricier, tastes better, and have a longer shelf-life.
  • Good quality virgin olive oil would usually come in dark green or black colored bottles as exposure to sunlight can affect the chemical value of the oil.
  • Check the manufacturing date of the oil and avoid buying oils labeled as only olive oil and not virgin olive oil. 

What is the difference between extra virgin, virgin, refined, and pure olive oil?

  • In extra virgin olive oil, the olive oil is extracted from the olives without the use of heat or chemicals. There is also a lesser presence of oleic acid. It has a dark yellow or greenish color and is higher in quality compared to virgin and traditional olive oil.
  • Virgin olive oil is higher in quality as well but is lesser in quality compared to extra virgin olive oil. It is also less pricy than extra virgin olive oil.
  • Refined olive oil is of inferior quality compared to extra virgin and virgin olive oil. It does not contain as many nutrients present in virgin olive oil or extra virgin olive oil. The good part is that it is much cheaper, less bitter, and can be used for cooking purposes.
  • Pure olive oil is a mixture of refined and extra virgin olive oil. It is of inferior quality compared to virgin olive oil and not suitable for cooking. It can be used as a hair oil instead.

What is olive oil acidity and what does it indicate?

Acidity is used to measure oleic acid content and is usually indicated using percentage (%) though it can also be represented in degrees (°). Virgin olive oil should have an acidity less than or equal to 2°.

In terms of percentage, virgin olive oils have an acidity rate between 0.8 to 2% whereas extra virgin olive oil has an acidity rate of less than 0.8%. 

A lower acidity level would indicate higher quality. Lower acidity would lesser amount of free fatty acids. Olive oil has more than a 2% acidity rate is termed lampante oils. Refined olive oils come under this category.

Can acidity affect the taste and quality of olive oils?

Yes, acidity can affect the taste and quality of olive oils. Virgin olive oils and extra virgin oils have an acidity rate below two percent which makes them much more flavorful and healthier.

Refined olive oils are tasteless and do not contain as much as nutrients compared to extra virgin and virgin olive oil. For more information on this, click here https://www.treurer.com/en/blog-olive-oil-culture/acidity-of-olive-oil/

Can virgin olive oil be used for cooking food?

Yes, virgin olive oil can be used for cooking. It is especially useful in baking foods. 

Can virgin olive oil be used for frying?

Olive oil has a lower smoke point compared to other oils. The smoke point of olive oil ranges from 365 to 420°F. This can make the olive oil overheat and produce toxic components which would make the olive oil no longer healthy. As a result, it is recommended to not use virgin olive oil for frying.

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have answered the question “What does virgin olive oil mean?” and how it differs from pure olive oil and extra virgin olive oil.

References

https://www.masterclass.com/articles/complete-olive-oil-guide#3-factors-to-consider-when-cooking-with-olive-oil
https://www.thehealthsite.com/fitness/types-of-olive-oil-which-one-to-use-for-cooking-and-which-one-for-hair-and-skin-v0316-378411/
https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-cold-pressed-olive-oil#1
https://www.aceitedelasvaldesas.com/en/faq/preguntas-aceite-de-oliva/acidez-del-aceite-de-oliva/
https://www.olivenation.com/the-importance-of-low-acidity-in-olive-oil

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.