We have all used different types of olive oils, but very few are aware of exactly what they are or through which processes pass these oils to receive a name or another. The truth is that there are multiple varieties and it is not always clear how to differentiate the different qualities of olive oil.
Olive oil is a liquid obtained by different extraction processes from the oil of the olive and its use is mainly culinary, although it can be used for the manufacture of some medicines or cosmetic products.
It should also be noted that nearly half of the world’s olive oil production comes from Spain and more than 95% of olive oil production worldwide comes from the Mediterranean area.
Classification of olive oils in Europe
The classification of olive oils varies greatly depending on the extraction processes through which it passes. Higher quality oils are extracted in Almazaras (olive press). These undergo a natural extraction process that follows certain criteria that are a guarantee of quality. On the other hand we have refined oils, which are generally considered of low quality because their production involves a lot of chemicals designed to enhance its flavour, aroma or colour. In general, we distinguish between the following types of olive oils:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This name is usually synonymous with top quality. It is obtained from olives of the highest quality in which extraction process only involves mechanical processes, so that its taste is not altered in any way by chemical additions aimed at improving and enhancing its qualities. It is obtained in Almazaras and is free of defects since it must meet certain requirements before being able to obtain this certification.
- Virgin Olive Oil: Like extra virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil follows rigorous manufacturing procedures identical to those of extra virgin olive oil. Its main difference from the extra virgin olive oil are the degrees of acidity and some other quality details as the median of defects, which in this case is far from zero.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil is an oil of lower quality than the previous two, since this can be made in refineries, so it contains different chemical additives that help building its flavour.
- Olive Pomace Oil: It is considered the lowest quality olive oil suitable for consumption since it is not properly a pure olive oil because of combining refined olive pomace oil with olive oil, in the production of which also involve different chemical elements.
We hope it has been useful to know the different varieties of olive oil as well as its peculiar characteristics.