EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL-A BUYERS GUIDE EDUCATION
NOT ALL EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OILS ARE CREATED EQUAL!
People tell us all the time they have the best olive oil or Italy makes the best olive oil. Well yes, it may be true that you have a high quality extra-virgin olive oil but how can you tell? The only way to tell if an EVOO is fresh, pure, high quality, and full of healthy components is through lab testing. Lab testing immediately following the olive crush is the ONLY way to level the playing field allowing the consumer to compare EVOO’s to EVOO’s.
Although Italy is a beautiful country to visit, it is one of many countries that produce the finest extra-virgin olive oils. At EVOO Marketplace freshness and purity come first rather than the country of origin. We follow two olive crush cycles in the World, a Northern Hemisphere crush (U.S.A. & Europe November-January) and a Southern Hemisphere crush (South America, South Africa, & Australia – April-June). By doing so we ensure our customers that they are purchasing the freshest extra-virgin olive oil possible.
What about purity? With the vast majority of imported “extra-virgin olive oils” being a blend of a small percent EVOO and the remainder Canola, Grapeseed, or Safflower oils it’s hard to tell if one can not sample prior to purchase. At EVOO Marketplace we allow our customers to sample all of ultra-premium extra-virgin olive oils and flavored olive oils prior to making a purchasing decision. More importantly we proudly display a full panel of lab results for each specific EVOO. This ensures us and our customers that all of our EVOO’s are fresh, pure, super high quality, and healthy. In addition to the lab analysis of each EVOO we also display sensory (Bitterness, Fruitiness, Pungency) ratings on all of our ultra-premium EVOO’s.
Unfortunately, current regulations for imported extra-virgin olive oil is extremely loose and therefore the majority of so called “extra-virgin olive oils” found in grocery stores and other olive oil stores are most likely NOT what constitutes the Mediterranean Diet. Again, the ONLY way to know is through lab testing. Below we present in-depth information on each of the olive oil lab tests that we track.
HARVEST & CRUSH DATE
Although not a lab test this information is crucial when determining freshness of an extra-virgin olive. Crush date is very different than an “Expiration” or “Best By” date as it informs the customer on what month and year the olives were crushed. Our Ultra Premium EVOO’s are ultra fresh for approximately 14 months from the crush/harvest date. We recommend consuming within 18 months to two years.
Regulatory Limit: International Olive Council (IOC) = Not Regulated. EVOO Marketplace = We will NEVER sell an EVOO which harvest date is outside of the World’s current Northern/Southern Hemisphere harvest/crush cycle.
FREE FATTY ACID (FFA)
Free fatty acid (FFA) speaks to the condition of the fruit (olive) at the time of crush. The higher the FFA the greater the indication of poor quality fruit. Olives which are damaged, overripe, insect infestation, overheated during production or too much of a delay between harvest and crush will display a high FFA. A FFA lower than 3% is desirable. Low FFA also correlates with a higher smoke point.
Regulatory Limits: The International Olive Council (IOC) maximum limit: 0.8%. EVOO Marketplace maximum limit 0.3%.
A monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid found in EVOO. Pure, fresh, high quality EVOO is generally higher in oleic acid than other vegetable fats (oils). Extra virgin olive oil high in oleic acid has greater resistance to oxidation. Although not an Essential Fatty Acid, daily intake of Omega 9’s help support a healthy diet.
Regulatory limits: International Olive Council (IOC) minimum limit = 55%. EVOO Marketplace minimum limit = 65%. The higher the more desirable.
Biophenols are a subclass of phenolic compounds belonging to the larger umbrella of Phenols. The term “Biophenol” is a more accurate descriptor of the commonly, less chemically accurate, Polyphenol. Biophenols in the daily diet are highly sought after for their free radical scavenger antioxidant activity. Recent studies indicate that these potent bioactive Biophenols are responsible for many of the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean Diet. Bioactive Biophenols such as Oleuropein, Oleocanthal, and Hydroxytyrosol impart intensity associated with pepper, bitterness and other desirable flavor characteristics.
Regulatory Limits: International Olive Council (IOC) = Not regulated. EVOO Marketplace minimum limit = 130ppm
Peroxide content speaks to the integrity of the olive at the time of crush. Unsaturated free fatty acids react with oxygen and form peroxides, which create a series of chain reactions that generate volatile substances responsible for a typical musty/rancid oil smell. A very low peroxide value is desirable.
Regulatory Limits: International Olive Council (IOC) maximum limit = 20ppm. EVOO Marketplace maximum limit = 9ppm.
Diacylglycerols are an indicator of the age of an oil. The chemical conversion of DAG’s form 1,2 to form 1,3 takes place naturally as the oil ages. A higher form 1,2 DAG is desirable.
Regulatory Limits: International Olive Council (IOC) = Not Regulated. Australian Olive Council (AOC) minimum limit = 35%. EVOO Marketplace minimum limit = 90%.
Pyropheophytins (PPP) are an indicator of the freshness of an olive oil. Degradation of chlorophyll to pyropheophytin was found to take place at a predictable pace making it possible to gain information about the age of an olive oil. A low PPP content is desirable.
Regulatory Limits: International Olive Council (IOC) = Not Regulated. Australian Olive Council (AOC) maximum limit = 17%. EVOO Marketplace maximum limit = 5%.