Classification of Olive Oils
Types of oilsAccording to the 1986 International Olive Oil Agreement, we can only name olive oil the oil that comes from the olive (the fruit of the olive tree), without the need of chemicals or refinement. Olive oil is able to preserve its properties, both chemical and organoleptic, unchanged for a long period of time.
On the other hand, we can find different classifications when it comes to olive oil. They can be cataloged according to the place of origin, the variety of olives, etc. However, we are going to focus on its commercial classification, following the guidelines of Regulation CE 1019/2002 by the European Union:
Extra virgin olive oilExtra virgin olive oil is the highest quality olive oil. It is obtained directly from olives and is 100% natural olive juice, obtained only by mechanical procedures, such as washing, decanting, centrifuging and filtering. It does not have any additions in its production process. The acidity of the extra virgin olive oil does not exceed 0.8º.
Within this category, we can find early harvest extra virgin olive oils, made in the same way as the traditional one, but with the olive in veraison.
Virgin olive oilAlthough it is still a 100% natural product and elaborated by mechanical procedures, the same as extra virgin, it loses the qualifier 'extra' because a chemical or organoleptic defect has been found in the analyses done in order to ensure its quality. The acidity of virgin olive oil never exceeds 2º.
Lampante olive oilIt is the worst quality olive oil, whose acidity is higher than 2º. This type of oil is made with raw material in poor condition, either because the olive is from the ground or because it is sick or damaged by the weather. Lampante olive oil has poor organoleptic qualities. It goes to refinery processes in order to make it suitable for human consumption, using very aggressive chemical and physical procedures.
Refined olive oilThis is the lampante olive oil that is the result of the refinery process to which it has been subjected. As we have said, it undergoes very aggressive processes to eliminate any type of defect it may have. Refined olive oil is devoid of taste, smell, and color.
Olive oilIt is the olive oil as a result of the mixture between refined olive oil and virgin olive oil (this latter in order to improve its organoleptic characteristics). It differs from refined olive oil that this olive oil contains a percentage of virgin olive oil. In this type of oil, the defects of refined olive oil disappear, but also the natural qualities of olive juice. In supermarkets, we can find it as 'mild olive oil' or 'intense olive oil'.
Olive pomace oilIt is obtained from the olive pomace, a sub-product of the olive that contains traces of water, bones, pulp and olive skin. This is transferred to the pomace facilities, where the product is washed and the olive pomace oil is obtained.
It requires a refining process through physical and chemical procedures to remove all unwanted components and turn it into refined olive-pomace oil. It is usually mixed with virgin olive oil to add certain organoleptic qualities. The degree of acidity of
olive pomace oil does not exceed 1%.