Frequently Asked Questions about Extra Virgin Olive Oil
there a difference between Extra Virgin olive oil and those
labelled Pure or Light?
Extra virgin olive oil is
the purest form of olive oil that you can buy. It is obtained
by crushing the olives into a paste, then extracting the
oil from this paste without the use of chemicals or excessive
heat. Extra virgin olive oil has a distinctive olive fruity
aroma and flavour and it contains natural antioxidants.
'Pure' or 'light' olive oils, on the other hand, have been
refined. Refining is a complex process that involves the
use of acids, alkalis, steam and other agents. The refining
process removes all of the aroma and flavour substances
out of the olive oil including its natural antioxidants.
Artificial antioxidants such as butylated hydroxyanisole
(BHA) and the related compound butylated hydroxytoluene
(BHT) need to be added back to give the refined olive oil
a reasonable shelf life.
Many people misconstrue
olive oils that are labelled Light or Extra Light to be
low fat or low calorie, however the word 'light' only refers
to the light colour, aroma and flavour of these oils.
notice olive oils packaged in both clear and dark bottles.
Does this make a difference?
Most definitely. Light is
the enemy of olive oil as it is one of the factors which
causes rancidity. You should always purchase oils stored
in dark opaque glass. Some producers package their oils
in clear bottles. This is mainly to attract the buyer. Storing
olive oil in clear bottles is detrimental to its quality.
are the health benefits of olive oil? Isn't it a fat?
Well-documented by numerous
studies around the world, the many health benefits of olive
oil make it one of the most indispensable ingredients of
a healthy diet. Naturally packed with monounsaturated fatty
acids (good fats) and antioxidants, not only can a good
extra virgin olive oil lower your risk of heart disease
and cancer, research has shown that it also provides a wide
range of anti-inflammatory benefits that can positively
impact illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis,
If you are especially interested
in the health benefit aspects of olive oil, the best choice
is extra virgin olive oil, preferably a very high quality
one, as it is likely that its production method leaves most
antioxidants and other healthy components intact.
is the best way to store olive oil?
Heat, light, oxygen and time
degrade olive so the ideal storage place should be a dark
place with a relatively constant, cool temperature away
from direct heat and sunlight. Olive oils will rapidly become
rancid if stored in a warm, well lit environment whilst
exposure to light will also hasten the loss of the health
giving vitamin E like compound, tocopherol.
Oil stored in the refrigerator
will go cloudy and may become solid. If this happens take
the oil out of the fridge and store in the pantry and the
colour will return to normal.
Oil in casks, or in dark glass
will last longer than oil in clear bottles or plastic.
advice on how to taste olive oil?
tasting olive oil, much of the oil’s characteristics
are perceived through the sense of smell. The colour of
the oil is NOT an indicator of either the oil’s flavor
or quality, and it is contrary to common belief that golden
oil is mild while dark green oil is robust .
most people enjoy olive oil with other foods, the following
steps will show you how to focus on the olive oil’s
flavor without distraction:
• Pour a tablespoon of oil into a small tapered wine
• Hold the glass in one hand and use your other hand
to cover the glass while swirling the oil to release its
• Uncover the glass and inhale deeply from the top
of the glass to evaluate the olive fruit aroma (fruitiness).
Is it mild or strong? You may want to write down descriptions
of the aromas that you detect at this point.
• Next, slurp the oil: sip a small amount of oil into
your mouth while “sipping” some air as well.
If you make loud slurping noises, you're doing it correctly!
Slurping emulsifies the oil with air that helps to spread
it throughout your mouth - giving you the chance to savor
every nuance of flavor with just a small sip of oil.
• Finish by swallowing the oil and notice if it leaves
a stinging sensation in your throat which determines the
intensity of the oil’s pungency.