Understanding Extra virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Becoming intimately familiar with a particular extra virgin olive oil’s flavor characteristics and chemistry i.e. antioxindant content (polyphenols), oleic acid, FFA and crush date, will help you make an educated decision about which olive oil is right for you.
Free Fatty Acid- FFA (Acidity): The lower, the better!
The International Olive Oil Council requires that this number be below 0.8/100g in order for an olive oil to be considered Extra Virgin grade. Our average is about 0.2! Also, the lower the FFA, the higher the smoke point of that particular oil. **(Fruit processed immediately should produce oil with low FFA)**
Peroxide Value- (PV): The lower the better!
This number must be equal to or less than 20 based on IOOC standards. This is the primary measurement of the rancidity of a particular extra virgin olive oil. Peroxide value is affected by procedures used in processing, and storing of the oil. 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. These reactions are accelerated by high temperature, light, and oxygen exposure. Our average PV at time of crush is around 3.2!
Polyphenol Count - (Healthful Antioxidant Substances): The higher the better!
Polyphenols are a class of antioxidents found in a variety of foods. Polyphenols such as Oleuropein, Oleocanthal, and hydroxytyrosol impart intensity connected with pepper, bitterness and other desirable flavor characteristics. Recent studies indicate that these potent phenols are responsible for many of the health benefits associated with consuming fresh, high quality extra virgin olive oil. Phenols in olive oil decrease over time or when exposed to heat, oxygen and light. Consuming fresh, well made olive oil with high phenol content is crucial when looking to obtain the maximum health benefit commonly associated with consuming extra virgin olive oil.
Oleic Acid- (Healthful Monounsaturated Fat): The higher the better!
Oleic acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid found in olive oil. Olive oil is generally higher in oleic acid than other vegetable fats.
In order for an oil to be called extra virgin olive oil, the Fatty Acid Profile must be comprised of at least 55% Oleic Acid. Our average oleic acid content is around 77%! Substituting oleic acid for saturated fatty acids in animal fats improves cholesterol balance. This is why monounsaturated fats are often regarded as “the good fats”.
New Olive Oil Testing Methods & Technology
DAG’s Test/Score – The higher the better!
The DAG test developed by the Austrailian Olive Association measures the proportion of two forms of diacylglycerol: 1,2 and 1,3. In oil freshly made from sound olives of good quality, the prevalent form of DAG is the 1,2 form where the fatty acids are bonded to a glycerol molecule in the 1 and 2 positions. The bond on the 2 position is weak and easily broken, leading to the migration of that 2 position fatty acid to the 3 position. This results in the much more stable 1,3 DAG. This makes the ration of 1,2 DAGS to the total DAG’s a good indicator of the quality of the olive fruit and the processing. It is also an indicator of the age of an oil, since the migration from 1,2 to 1,3 DAGs takes place naturally as the oil ages. Warmer storage temperatures and higher free fatty acid levels will both accelerate this process, but DAGs are not affected by the short exposure to high heat that is characteristic of deodorizing (refining).
PPP Test/Scores: The lower the better!
This test was developed to measure the degradation of chlorophyll in olive oil. This degradation of chlorophylls to pyropheophytin was found to take place at a predictable pace, making it possible to gain information about the age of an olive oil. The rate at which the degradation occurs can be accelerated by even short periods of high temperatures- such as that which is utilized during the deodorizing or soft column refining process – making it a useful indicator of the presence of deodorized olive oil as well as the age of the oil.