Olive Oil Terminology
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) – Comes from virgin oil production only, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. Extra virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries, but the percentage is far higher in the Mediterranean countries (Greece: 80%, Italy: 45%, Spain 30%). The Olive Table’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil ranges from 0.22% to 0.29% acidity.
Cold Pressed – A chemical-free process using only pressure, cold pressing produces a higher quality of olive oil which is naturally lower in acidity. The best oils are cold pressed. The oil is obtained through pressing and grinding the olives using heavy granite millstones or modern stainless steel presses. Although the pressing process produces heat through friction, the temperature must not rise above 120°F (49°C) for the oil to be considered cold pressed. Cold pressed oils retain all of their flavor, aroma, and nutritional value.
Unfiltered – Filtration is the process by which microscopic bits of the fruit of the olive are removed from the oil. Unfiltered oil is allowed to settle for two to three months in stainless steel tanks so that these fruit particles can float to the bottom. This process is called “racking.” When transferred into containers for shipping, the sediment remains at the bottom of the tank. The most noticeable difference between an unfiltered and a filtered EVOO is appearance. The unfiltered oil may appear a bit cloudy, owing to residual fruit particles that weren’t removed through gravity in the settlement tank. Some consider unfiltered oil superior because the fruit particles enhance the taste and aroma of the EVOO.
Organic – Generally refers to foods which are grown without pesticides, inorganic fertilizers and other chemical additives. In many countries, there are organizations that certify a food product as organic, and have varying standards which must be met to meet that certification. In the U.S., the Department of Agriculture (USDA), under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, has specifications which must be met for a food to carry the USDA organic label. Organic olive oil growers wishing to be certified by the USDA must, for example, be growing on land that has been free of banned fertilizers and pesticides for a minimum of three years.
First Press – First press was a former official definition for olive oil. A century ago, oil was pressed in screw or hydraulic presses. The paste was subjected to increasingly high pressures with subsequent degradation in the flavor of the oil. Today the vast majority of oil is made in continuous centrifugal presses. There is no second pressing.