I walked to the supermarket and headed to an aisle full of olive oil brands. And like the gullible buyer I am, I started picking the familiar brand. Just as I was about to push the trolley, I came across the Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
No one told me that olive oil had varieties. Which one should you buy? Or what is the difference between regular olive oil and the virgin variety? Here’s all that you need to know.
The Olive Oil Story
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Generally speaking, the olive all we all know is a simple oil that’s obtained from the fruit of olive trees. The real difference starts not by the use of olive used, but with the extraction process used. The additives and the oil’s level of free oleic acid also matter in the differentiating the nutritional value, use, and flavor.
How Are Both Extracted?
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The only common thing between simple olive oil and extra virgin oil is the fruit of the olive tree from which oil is extracted.
So the regular olive oil is refined before being bottled. Between bottling and refining, it may also be treated with some additives and preservatives giving it a light yellow color.
The extra virgin oil, on the other hand, is the purest form of olive oil. It has a golden-green hue, original to the shade of the olive fruit. It retains its natural color because it is not subjected to any industrial processes. It is the first press that is the first juice obtained after extraction. The juice is obtained through the process cold-pressing which is just filtered and bottled as is.
And There Is More
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The extraction and filtering make extra virgin olive stronger in flavor and aroma than regular olive oil with slight bitter tasting. Besides, the level of acidity in the oil i.e. the presence of Free Oleic Acid content brings the gradation differences in olive oils.
This measure of free oleic acid in olive oil is indicative of the degree to which fat has separated into fatty acids. While the regular olive oil has about 3-4% of oleic acid content, the extra virgin olive oil has less than 1%.
The difference in Cooking: Regular Vs. Extra Virgin Oil
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The regular olive oil and the extra virgin olive oil also differ in the cooking purposes. The smoke point makes for the primary difference which is the temperature at which the oil starts producing bluish smoke. The smoke point of regular olive oil is a little higher than extra virgin olive oil.
Therefore regular olive oil is more suitable for cooking that requires high heat like frying. Extra virgin olive makes a great dressing for salads and light sautéing.
Being unrefined, the extra virgin oil is obviously a better option than refined. Extra virgin oil is not just pure but has low oleic acid content which makes it unsuitable for deep frying. So now you better knowledge of olive oil. Next time you buy one you would know which one to buy – the regular olive oil or the extra virgin olive oil.
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