Types of Olive Oil
Sometimes referred to as liquid gold. Olive oil is highly-prized not only for its health benefits, but also for its wonderful flavor.
The best olive oil is a blend of oil from a mixture of red-ripe (not green and not fully ripe) olives and a smaller proportion of oil from green olives of a different variety. Cold-pressing, a chemical-free process using only pressure, produces a higher quality of olive oil which is naturally lower in acidity.
When purchasing olive oil, it is important to check labels for the percentage of acidity, grade of oil, volume, and country of origin. The level of acidity is a key factor in choosing fine olive oil, along with color, flavor, and aroma. Here are the different categories of olive oils:
• Extra virgin olive oil: Also known as Cold Pressed Oil ( or First Cold Pressed) I this process, the olives were crushed exactly one time ( First press). The cold refers to a temperature of 25 C ( during processing) thus retaining the nutrients ( vitamins, phenols, sterols). The oil obtained is clear and of a high quality. The Cold press method is an expensive processing method, but results in olives with only 1% acid; considered the finest and fruitiest, and thus the most expensive; ranging from a crystalline champagne color to greenish-golden to bright green; generally, the deeper the color, the more intense the olive flavor.
• Virgin olive oil: also a first-press oil, with a slightly higher acidity level of between 1-3%.
• Fino olive oil: (meaning fine in Italian) is a blend of extra virgin and virgin olive oils.
• Hot pressed Oil: (also known as your Light Olive Oils) In this process, the olive paste is pressed generally the second time using hot water and steam. Therefore, some nutrients ( vitamins, phenols, sterols) and the delicate flavors are lost ( less quality than the cold pressed Olive Oil). Also known as Light olive oil, this version contains the same amount of beneficial monounsaturated fats as regular olive oil, but due to the refining process, it is lighter in color and has essentially no flavor. This makes it a good choice for baking and other purposes where the heavy flavor might not be desirable. This process also gives it a higher smoking point, making it a prime candidate for high-heat cooking.