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Taking the mystery out of Olive Oil

Posted Sep 02 2009 10:22pm

What does the Label say?

Olive oil vendors choose the wording on their labels very carefully.

  • "100% Pure Olive Oil" is often the lowest quality available in a retail store: better grades would have "virgin" on the label.
  • "Made from refined olive oils" means that the taste and acidity were chemically controlled.
  • "Light olive oil" means refined olive oil, with less flavour.
  • "From hand-picked olives" implies that the oil is of better quality, since producers harvesting olives by mechanical methods are inclined to leave olives to over-ripen in order to increase yield.
  • "First cold press" is generally a purely commercial wording with no factual meaning. It suggests that the oil in bottles with this label is the "first oil that came from the first press" of the olives and that no heat is used. This is incorrect.
    First of all, "cold" does not define any precise temperature. A certain exception is made for the European regulation which requires that the processing temperature be below 27 °C in order to be named "cold pressed". In cooler regions like Tuscany or Liguria the olives collected in November and ground often at night are too cold to be processed efficiently without heating. The paste is regularly heated above the environmental temperatures, which may be as low as 10-15 °C, in order to extract the oil efficiently with only physical means. Olives pressed in warm regions like Southern Italy or Northern Africa may be pressed at significantly higher temperatures although not heated. While it is important that the pressing temperatures be as low as possible (generally below 35 °C) there is no international reliable definition of "cold pressed".
    Furthermore there is no "second" press of virgin oil, so the term "first press" is meaningless.
  • The label may indicate that the oil was bottled or packed in a stated country. This does not necessarily mean that the oil was produced there. The origin of the oil may sometimes be marked elsewhere on the label; it may be a mixture of oils from more than one country. Remember the wordsMonounsaturated fat. These are the healthy fats, but remember FAT IS FAT. Their are about 125 calories per tablespoon So....TAKE IT EASY.


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