The Differences Between (Almost) Every Type of Olive Oil
Have you ever stood in the supermarket staring at twenty different olive oils, wondering what the difference between them all is? What does extra virgin mean? Is it better or worse than just plain olive oil? Let us help you before you get too overwhelmed. We’ve compiled a list of the most popular olive oil varieties and their characteristics so that you can have an easier shopping experience.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the highest grade and purest quality olive oil available. It has the best flavour and aroma and the most health benefits. EVOO is extracted through cold pressing (no heat), which stops the natural content from being altered. It has a lower acidity content compared to virgin olive oil. The free fatty acid content must be no greater than 0.08% to be labelled as EVOO. Industry standards for EVOO require 100% purity, meaning there are no refined oils or chemicals added and no heat is used.
Standard olive oil is obtained by refining virgin olive oil with high acidity or defects, which the refining process eliminates. The refined oil is then mixed with virgin olive oil. Over 50% of the olive oil produced in Mediterranean countries is of such poor quality that it must be refined to create an edible product. The oil is refined with the use of charcoal, chemical, and other physical filters. Often brands will label this as “Pure Olive Oil” to make it seem more enticing. This olive oil is generally tasteless and odourless.
Lampante Olive Oil
Lampante olive oil is known as the worst quality olive oil. In fact, it is such low quality that it is not fit for human consumption. Lampante olive oils have a high level of acidity and a nasty smell. The name Lampante comes from its original use, which was fuel for oil lamps. An olive oil is considered Lampante when it does not meet the requirements of virgin olive oil, meaning it has a free fatty acid content of over 2%.
Crude Pomace Olive Oil
When olives are pressed during olive oil production, they leave behind a pomace made of olive flesh and pits. Crude pomace olive oil is the oil obtained from treating this olive pomace with solvents or physical treatments. It is a lower quality olive oil that is generally used for industrial purposes or making soaps.
We hope that now you have a better understanding of how the different varieties of olive oils differ. When you’re at the grocery store or shopping online for olive oil, you should always opt for extra virgin where possible. If not, virgin olive oil is your next best choice.