Grades of Olive Oil

What is Extra Virgin?

Extra virgin olive oil is essentially the naturally extracted juice from fresh olives. The olives are crushed into a paste, and the oil is physically extracted from this paste without the use of chemicals or excessive heat,” Australian olive oil expert Richard Gawel notes. “Extra virgin olive oil has a distinctive olive fruity aroma and flavor and it contains natural antioxidants.” Refining, he adds, is a more intricate process using acids, alkalis, steam and other agents. “The refining process removes all of the aroma and flavor substances out of olive including its natural antioxidants,” Gawel explains. “Artificial antioxidants need to be added back to give the refined olive oil a reasonable shelf life.” Simply put, extra virgin means that the oil is made only from the fresh juice of olives, and that it tastes good: extra virgin olive oil is produced by mechanically pressing the olives without the use of chemicals or solvents.

Extra virgin olive oil made in California must not have any sensory flaws, and must meet rigid standards chemical standards set by the Olive Oil Commission of California (OOCC) and the International Olive Oil Council (IOC). At California Olive Ranch, our extra virgin olive oils are certified extra virgin by the California Olive Oil Council (COOC). Our extra virgin olive oils are milled within hours of harvesting the olives. Let us walk you through how it’s made.

First Cold Press

Represents the first pressing of an olive into oil and no heat is added, that’s it! In some countries, producers take the pomace, the remaining skins and pits that remain after the first press, and press the pomace a second or third time to extract 100% of the oil. All olive oil produced by California Olive Ranch is extra virgin, which is inherently first cold press.

Extra virgin olive oil can be used for any type of food preparation, from baking to frying, and is one of the healthiest options. Here’s more information about other oils you might see on the shelf.

Virgin

Virgin olive oil is produced using the same method as extra virgin olive oil, but does not meet the strict chemical and sensory standards. Typically virgin olive oil has an acidity value of less than 2% as compared to an extra virgin olive oil of less than 0.5%.

Pure Olive Oil

Oils labeled as "Pure olive oil" or "Olive oil" are usually a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil.

Pomace Olive Oil

Created using the byproduct of the milling process, pomace oil is created by mixing solvents into the olive pulp. Heat is then used to extract additional oil from the pulp. Pomace oil could technically be called second press, since it is extracted from the pulp that remains after the first press.

Refined Olive Oil

Olive oils that do not meet virgin standards undergo additional processing to remove any chemical or sensory flaws that would otherwise make the oil unfit for sale. High temperatures or chemicals are used in the process, and the oil is made odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Refined oils typically are blended with a small portion of extra virgin olive oil to provide some flavor, aroma and color.

Refining Methods for Olive Oil Used By Other Companies

  • Degumming

    Also known as water refining, the oil is treated with hot water, steam, or water mixed with acid. The oil is then spun in a high-speed centrifuge. Healthful polyphenols are removed along with gummy phospholipids, a class of lipids that are a key component of cell membranes.

  • Neutralization

    The oil is treated with caustic soda, or lye, an inorganic compound. Color is removed along with undesirable free fatty acids.

  • Bleaching

    Using an acid bleaching process, the oil is heated to 212 degrees Fahrenheit and pigments are removed.

  • Winterization

    The oil is quickly chilled, solidified, and then filtered, removing solid matter such as waxes.

  • Deodorization

    The oil is heated to a temperature of 300 degrees to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and steam is used to remove disagreeable tastes and aromas.

Light Olive Oil

Light is a marketing term that can be confusing for many of us. Light olive oil is made from refined olive oil stripped of odor, color, and taste, claiming to be "light in flavor." Don't be fooled into thinking this oil contains fewer calories or less fat. It doesn't.