What is a cold-processed extra virgin olive oil?
Extra virgin olive oil, when cold pressed, is extracted at a temperature below 27 degrees Celsius, and temperature is key to the quality of extra virgin olive oil from a gastronomic and organoleptic point of view.
International regulations state that, in order to label an oil as cold extraction extra virgin olive oil, thermometers must be installed in the mill to record the temperatures of the pulp and the oil throughout the extraction process.
When an oil is produced using this technique, the final product benefits from the following aspects:
Volatile compounds remain in the oil
The intrinsic components responsible for the aromas and odours of extra virgin olive oil are volatile, they evaporate very easily. The higher the processing temperature, the more components volatilise and, as a result, the oil loses some intensity in aromas and its gastronomic characteristics are reduced.
Therefore, a cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, being produced at a low temperature, has a greater diversity and intensity of aromas, making it a true delicacy.
Low-temperature processing reduces the rate of oxidation of the paste, which means that, all things being equal, cold-extracted oil has less acidity.
It should be noted that the lower the acidity of an extra virgin olive oil, the better. The oils protected by the Designation of Origin Estepa have a maximum acidity of 0.3 and international regulations require an extra virgin olive oil to be below 0.8.
Less quantity but higher quality is produced
When extra virgin olive oil is cold pressed, less is extracted from the olives, but the quality is higher. The model implemented by the brands covered by the Designation of Origin Estepa aims for continuous improvement of quality, so 100% of production is cold-pressed.
Quality is a chain, in which all the steps are of great importance. Cold extraction is one of them, but good facilities, absolute cleanliness and expert handling by the production manager are also very important.
In short, cold processing is one of the most important factors in obtaining quality extra virgin olive oil and maintaining all the components of the oil that make it a delicious and healthy product.