Types of olive oil
TYPES OF OLIVE OIL
Olive oil is an oil that is obtained from the olive, fruit of the plant European olea of the family of Oleaceae. From the olive harvest and subsequent extraction of the oil we can have different types of oil. The following classification identifies the different categories of oil identified by the European Union with EC regulation 2568/1991 and EC regulation 1989/2003 which takes into account various factors:
- extraction / production method (mechanical, chemical, mixed);
- chemical characteristics (free acidity);
- the fruity (which depends on the production area. For example in Umbria and Tuscany there is an intense fruitiness with a spicy note, unlike for example in Sardinia and Sicily where it is more delicate);
- quality of the raw material;
- degree of ripeness at harvest;
- organoleptic characteristics that determine its quality.
The acidity of an oil it is measured by calculating the percentage of free fatty acids contained in the oil. This parameter is expressed in different ways depending on the type of oil and therefore on the dominant fatty acid. For example, in coconut oil it is calculated by taking lauric acid as a reference; in the case of palm oil, palmitic acid is considered. For all other oils, oleic acid is used as a reference. The lower its quantity, the more the oil molecule will be intact and consequently the lower its acidity and the better the oil. An oil produced from healthy olives and harvested with correct techniques and at the right degree of ripeness, will have a very low acidity. During the process of oil extraction, particular conditions may occur that alter the chemical composition of the oil, affecting its olfactory-gustatory characteristics and therefore deteriorating its quality. For this reason, the oil extraction phase is delicate and important. Speaking of acidity, attention should be paid to the fact that it is not synonymous with spicy. In fact, when we taste an oil and perceive it as spicy, it does not mean that it has a high degree of acidity. Spicy is in fact the sensory manifestation of the presence of particular aromatic substances (polyphenols), which give this flavor that has nothing to do with acidity.
Let's see what are the oils that are obtained from olives. We have:
OILS OBTAINED FROM ONLY MECHANICAL PRESSING OF OLIVES
- Extra virgin olive oil:
It is obtained by extracting it from olives using only mechanical methods. It is a superior oil and its acidity must be less than 0.8%. It has a perfect taste and is free of defects (the median of the defects must be equal to 0 and the median of the fruitiness greater than 0 - Note 1);
- Virgin olive oil:
It is obtained by extracting it from olives using only mechanical methods. It is an oil that must have an acidity equal to or less than 2.0% and has some defects (the median of the defects is greater than 0 and less than or equal to 3.5 and the median of the fruitiness is greater than 0);
- Lampante olive oil:
It is obtained by extracting it from olives using only mechanical methods but with an acidity greater than 2%. It has a taste with quite evident defects (the median of the defects is equal to or greater than 3.5 and the median of the fruity is equal to 0). It is an oil that is obtained from the pressing of poor quality olives, so much so that it is not edible, and needs to be industrially treated (refined) to eliminate defects and therefore be used for food purposes.
OILS OBTAINED WITH REFINING PROCESSES
Refining is a series of industrial and chemical processes aimed at obtaining oil destined for, for example, food, pharmaceutical or cosmetic purposes. Refining yields:
- Refined olive oil:
It is obtained by refining lampante olive oil. It is an oil with a free acidity equal to or less than 0.3%. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless oil that cannot be sold at retail, but is mixed with virgin oil to obtain olive oil;
- Olive oil:
It is obtained by mixing refined olive oil with virgin olive oil. It has an acidity of less than or equal to 1%. Unfortunately, the legislation does not establish the minimum quantity of virgin oil which must therefore normally contain a minimum quantity, just enough to give color, smell and taste.
OILS OBTAINED FROM SANSA
- Crude olive pomace oil:
It is an oil obtained by extraction with solvent (hexane) from pomace (Note 2). After this extraction the oil undergoes washing and distillation. It is not directly edible, but must be further rectified to be edible;
- Refined pomace and olive oil:
It is obtained by refining from crude olive pomace oil. It is not retailable and has an acidity equal to or less than 0.3%;
- Pomace and olive oil:
It is an oil obtained from the mixing of pomace and refined olive oil with virgin olive oil (other than lampante oil), with acidity less than or equal to 1%.
Also for olive oils there is the TYPICALITY OF THE PRODUCT, that is to say, marks that certify its quality such as PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), TSG (Traditional Specialty Guaranteed) and PAT (Products Traditional Agri-food).
1. For median of defects we mean the median of the negative attribute perceived with the highest intensity. In other words, this value is calculated through mathematical formulas using as input the data provided by various tasters (panel test "Test done by a group of people"), people qualified to taste olive oils, who know how to evaluate and certify the organoleptic characteristics (strengths and weaknesses), taste, color, smell and appearance of an oil. It is in fact a subjective method as it exploits the sensory organs of the tasters who behave like measuring instruments.
As for the median of the fruitiness we operate in the same way as the median of the defects.
The data obtained are then mathematically processed obtaining the values we see in the labels.
2. Pomace is the by-product obtained from the extraction of olive oil formed by the husks, pulp residues and stone fragments.
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