Authentic olive oil is the only olive oil that you should consume. Although, understanding where to find and buy authentic olive oil has become very tricky lately.
Shockingly, extra virgin olive oil has been watered down by canola and other inferior oils pretending to be "real" olive oil. If you're lucky enough to live in a warmer climate with olive trees, you can learn how to make olive oil yourself.
That way you'll know your getting the "real" thing!
Authentic olive oil comes with numerous health benefits and this type of olive oil has been a favorite of many Mediterranean cultures. In the United States, California and Arizona are a couple of states with the right climate to grow these life giving trees.
How to make olive oil is really pretty simple. Olive oil is made by crushing and macerating washed olives into a paste. This paste is then pressed to separate the oil and water from the solids. Then the water is removed leaving behind the olive oil - which is then bottled.
Olives are one of the rare fruits that can be pressed "as is".
This rare quality only adds to the taste, aroma, special nutrients, and antioxidant properties of authentic olive oils.
As olives ripen, they change from their green color to a light brown and then move on to darker colors like purple. Fully ripened olives will turn black. Authentic olive oil can be made by pressing any of the different colored olives - even the green unripe olives.
Greener olive oils made from pressing green olives will have a slightly bitter and more pungent flavor. Golden olive oils made from pressing riper olives usually have a smoother and more buttery taste.
The main differences between the different types of virgin olive oils will be their taste, aroma, and acidity level which is what determines a great olive oil. Olive oil is graded by its level of acidity or free oleic acid. The amount of free oleic acid in olive oil will indicate the extent to which fat has broken down into fatty acids.
Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Ultra-Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fine Virgin Olive Oil
Virgin Olive Oil
Semifine Virgin Olive Oil
When olive oils are considered unfit for human consumption because of acidity levels greater than 3.3% or because they have an unpleasant taste, they are further refined with chemicals, heat, and/or filtration.
Refined olive oils are no longer considered virgin olive oils or authentic olive oils. These olive oils are tasteless, odorless, and will have an acidity level of 0.3% or less. Refined olive oils will have a longer shelf life and a higher smoke point.
"Pure olive oil" and "olive oil" are typically a blend of refined olive oil and a small amount of virgin olive oil.
Light olive oils have gone through an extremely fine filtration process usually with the use of heat and solvent chemicals. They are basically a refined olive oil that has had many of its healthy properties removed.
The filtration process removes most of the natural color, aroma, and flavor of the olive oil which makes them suitable for high temperature cooking. Typically light olive oils will contain other oils like canola.
There are many regions in the world that grow many different varieties of olives and each place will have a unique tasting authentic olive oil.
Usually, the best olive oils will come from small estates and farms that follow "organic" farming practices where the olives are hand-picked, pressed, and bottled on site.
The best authentic olive oils are extracted using a cold process and will come from the first pressing of ripening olives. Higher quality olive oils will be the least processed or "unrefined". These olive oils will contain higher levels of vitamins like vitamin E and antioxidant polyphenols.
Be sure its only 100% olive oil that comes in a dark bottle to help prevent oxidation. There should be a harvest or crush date on the bottle as well. You want to buy olive oil that was produced no longer than 14 months from the harvest or crush date to get the most health benefits from olive oil.