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Important things to know about extra virgin olive oil

Important things to know about extra virgin olive oil

At the Designation of Origin Estepa, the most demanding in the world when it comes to certifying an extra virgin olive oil, we want the consumer to know the product well.

For this reason, we would like to explain 7 key aspects that are key to know more about extra virgin olive oil:

Filtered or unfiltered oil

Once the extra virgin olive oil has been produced, the producer can choose whether or not to filter it, but this is not a compulsory process.

The purpose of filtering is to remove the small amounts of solid microparticles from the olives (impurities) and moisture that may remain in the extra virgin olive oil when it is produced.

A filtered extra virgin olive oil has a brighter and cleaner appearance. Filtering, which keeps the quality intact, gives the oil an impeccable commercial presentation, extending its shelf life with irreproachable organoleptic properties.

There are some reasons why it is more advisable to buy filtered extra virgin olive oil:

  • Durability: By filtering, the oil keeps its positive attributes intact for a longer period of time, as the impurities present in unfiltered extra virgin olive oil cause the quality of the product to deteriorate at an accelerated rate.
  • Flavour: In general, it is the type of olive, the time of harvesting and the correct production process that determine the intensity of the smell and flavour of extra virgin olive oil, and not whether it is filtered or unfiltered.
  • Tasting: Unfiltered extra virgin olive oil can develop odour and flavour defects more quickly. In this sense, it is more advisable to opt for filtered extra virgin olive oil, as it preserves its organoleptic properties (smell and taste) for longer and avoids the premature appearance of fermentation defects.

The acidity of the oil

Acidity measures the amount of free fatty acids in the oil, which is why it is a general indicator of the quality of extra virgin olive oils. The lower the acidity of an extra virgin olive oil, the better, as low acidity indicates that the oil has been made from healthy, fresh olives.

The acidity of extra virgin olive oil is only detected in a laboratory by means of a specific test. A person cannot assess this acidity through the senses.

The colour of the olive oil

The colour of extra virgin olive oil is not a sign of the quality of the oil. In fact, in the official tasting, amber or blue glasses are used, which prevent the colour of the oil from being seen.

The colour of the oil is determined, among other factors, by the time the olives are harvested and their variety.

Extra virgin olive oils can range in colour from yellow to green. When the olives are greener, they contain more chlorophyll and pheophytins, which gives rise to more greenish oils, and when the olives ripen, carotenes and xanthophylls increase, which are responsible for the yellow colour of the oils.

Best-before date

Extra virgin olive oil does not expire. The best-before date is indicated on the packaging, i.e. the date after which the packager can no longer guarantee that it will retain the characteristics and properties of its category. We therefore recommend consuming the extra virgin olive oil before the best-before date.

Cold processing

A cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil must have been extracted at a temperature below 27º. This aspect of the production process is one of the factors that contribute to obtaining excellent extra virgin olive oil, as it allows all its properties to be preserved, making it more beneficial to health.

If higher temperatures are used, more oil can be obtained (higher yield), but the quality of this oil will normally be inferior to an extra virgin olive oil, as when high temperatures are applied, the oil loses certain volatile components which are what give it its flavour, smell and greater health properties.

Our protected brands produce their extra virgin olive oils cold, which is why they are recognised nationally and internationally.

Early harvesting

Early harvest extra virgin olive oil is made from olives harvested at veraison, an optimum point of ripening that occurs just when the olives change colour from green to purple, or even a little earlier.

There is no fixed date for harvesting this early olive, as it depends both on the area and the variety of olive, and on weather conditions, although in the Mediterranean it usually begins in mid-October and ends around mid-November.

Extra virgin olive oils made from early harvest olives usually have exceptional organoleptic characteristics (smell and taste), especially their intense fruitiness, if the rest of the process has been carried out in a demanding manner.