WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VIRGIN AND EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL?
Both are a natural product and authentic juice of olives. The difference is in the degree of acidity and on the score obtained in the sensory analysis.
An extra virgin olive oil has an irreproachable taste and odor or said otherwise zero defects. If it is detected some type of aroma or flavor that belongs to the category of defects (rancid, humidity ...) it should be marketed under the label of "virgin". It is very difficult for a consumer not trained in the sensory analysis to be able to distinguish this barely perceptible defects, but there is a very strict methodology for the sensory evaluation of virgin olive oils by professional tasting panels.
With respect to the degree of acidity, the IOC (International Olive Council) stipulates that the extra virgin can not exceed 1º, while the virgin's limit is 2º. However, in EU regulation it is indicated that the extra virgin olive oil has 0,8 ° maximum acidity.
In the market what we will find more usually extra virgin oils with a degree of acidity between 0.3 and 0.8 º and virgin oils that do not exceed 1º. Since the virgin oil sold does not exceed 1, which is the limit set for the extra virgin, the real difference between one and the other lies in the sensory analysis.
The acidity has nothing to do with the taste more or less intense, It is a chemical parameter that determines the amount of free fatty acids expressed in oleic acid. It is related to the elaboration process. A high acidity indicates anomalies in the state of the fruits, in the treatment and/or the conservation. It is also important to know that a very low acidity, for example, 0.1 º, is not necessarily synonymous with exceptional oil. In fact, for more than two years, the UE regulations prohibited the mention of the degree of acid in the label of an extra virgin oil unless it was accompanied by other chemical parameters such as peroxides.
In short, all the oils that have been obtained exclusively by mechanical methods (pressure or centrifugation) and without the intervention of any chemical process, are called virgins. But a small loss of quality in the olive or in any of the stages of the process is enough to transform oil category to virgin instead of extra virgin.
If you like it, share it!
Maria Molina holds a Bachelor's Degree in Pharmacy and a Master of Science, with more than 10 years of experience in the control of HACCP Food Safety Systems in the Health Department of Madrid, Spain.