Extra virgin and virgin

The definition of extra virgin olive oil was created to differentiate between two types of quality oils that can be obtained from the olives transformation at the mill, Virgin and Extra Virgin, with the latter indicating the highest quality.

Both types of oil oils are obtained from the fruit, or drupe of the olive tree (Olea Europaea) through a mechanical process (pressing of the olives) and other physical processes (decanting, centrifugation and filtration) in thermally controlled conditions.

Virgin and extra virgin olive oil are the only vegetable oils that can be fully qualified as Natural Products, as they are not treated with any refining or chemical extraction processes.

According to EU regulations, the organoleptic evaluation for virgin oil must take into account the median of defective product and fruitiness. For regular olive oil, the level of acidity must be equal to or lower than 2%, which helps determine the product’s overall “fruitiness.” For extra virgin oil, which stands out due to its totally flawless taste and smell, the acidity must be equal to or lower than 0.8%.

According to the classification of the European Regulation 2568/1991 and subsequent modifications, extra virgin olive oil is: “Olive oil whose organoleptic rating has a fruity median (Mf)>0 and a median defect (Md) =0, whose free acidity expressed as oleic acid is no higher than 0.8% and which possesses characteristics conforming to those set out for the category”.

These parameters, among others, legally define the type of olive oil that can be classified as extra virgin.

Parameter EU Legal Limits
Acidity (%) ≤0.8
Peroxide value (meq02/Kg) ≤20
Ethyl Esters (mg/kg) ≤35
K232 ≤2.50
K270 ≤0.22
Parameter US Legal Limits
Acidity (%) ≤0.8
Peroxide value (meq02/Kg) ≤20
K232 ≤2.50
K270 ≤0.22

But what qualities does extra virgin oil have over other oil?

Extra virgin olive oil is produced through mechanical extraction, without the use of chemical solvents, and without any particular intermediary steps or long periods of inactivity.

But in addition to these aspects, it is also characteristically rich in antioxidants, tocopherols and polyphenols, which have an effect on preservability and taste.

This last aspect of taste, including spicy and bitter and fruity aroma, are specifically determined by these “phenolic antioxidants,” which have always made olive oil a panacea for good health.

Why is it important to distinguish between virgin olive oil, extra virgin olive oil and olive oil? 

For one, extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil are suitable for immediate consumption, whereas lamp ante olive oil must be refined before it can be consumed. The so-called olive oil derives from the blending of virgin (or extra virgin) and refined olive oil.

Due to its organoleptic and chemical characteristics, extra virgin olive oil is ideal for cold dishes while olive oil (a blend of refined olive oil and virgin/extra virgin) is more suitable for hot cooking. Refined oil is more suitable for frying, as it has a lighter taste and does not mask the original flavor of the fried foods.