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Difference Between Virgin Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

It is no secret that olives and olive oil varieties have been around literally forever, with the trading of olives one of the oldest practices in the world. So highly regarded, Olive Oil even has some royal history, as was highlighted in one of our previous articles, it as it was used to anoint future kings in symbolic gestures, indicating that they had been selected by God for such roles. 

With such rich history behind it, olive oil and extra virgin olive oil are used widely today for both consumption and health benefits. However, many people do not have a solid understanding of what the difference between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil actually is.

We take a look at the differences between the two, so you can decide for yourself, which best suits your cooking or health needs! 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Both extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil are considered to be unrefined oils as the oil is extracted from the olives using a cold pressed method. 

Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality and most expensive olive oil available, and this is due to the extraction process.  Extraction of the oil from the olives is done by cold pressing the olives, with no other process such as heat or chemicals being used.  This type of olive oil tends to have a bit more of a distinct flavour and is generally darker in colour to its counterparts.

To determine if olive oil makes the “grade” for extra virgin olive oil, the oil extracted from the olives must have no defects, fruity and somewhat peppery in flavour and its free fatty acid content is equal or less than 0.08%.

Extra virgin olive oil can be considered to be unaltered, unrefined, and unfiltered oil and the price of this reflects the standard and quality of the oil.  

As extra virgin olive oil is extracted through cold pressing the olives, with no interference from heat and chemicals, it retains high-level antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.  

The smoking point of extra virgin olive oil is lower than many other oils, and whilst it can be used in cooking, the smoking point is very low, and it is considered suitable for light sauteing by not frying.  Extra virgin olive oil is best used for dipping breads, dressings, and cold dishes.  

Olive Oil

Traditional olive oil is second in quality only to extra virgin olive oil.  Again, it is produced by cold pressing olives, with no chemicals or heat being used, but is the quality is less than that of extra virgin olive oil (albeit still being exceptional quality).  The olives used in the extraction process after often riper than those used for extra virgin olive oil and have less polyphenols and have a higher fat content. 

Production of olive oil is not as strict as extra virgin olive oil, but the extraction methods of cold pressing remain the same.  The colour of virgin olive oil tends to be lighter than that of extra virgin olive oil. 

Traditional olive oil, after extraction, has minimal defects and its acidity level is between 0.08% and 2.0%.

The traditional olive oil defects present themselves as a defect in the aroma and/or flavour and a higher free fatty acid level.  The flavour is less intense to that of extra virgin olive oil which does suit some tastebuds.

The nutritional value of virgin olive oil is not as high as extra virgin olive oil, this oil is still high in antioxidants, but is less healthy that extra virgin olive oil.  Additionally, the price of virgin olive oil is less expensive that extra virgin olive oil.  

Virgin olive oil is good for cooking items that require lower temperature to be cooked due to the smoking point being low.

Quality extra virgin olive oil and olive oil are generally bottled in dark, coloured bottles. This is because both extra virgin and virgin olive oil are very heat and light sensitive.  It is best that the oil is stored in a cool, dark place.  If the oil gets too cold, it can become cloudy as the waxy esters clump together.  If that happens it is still fine to use, just leave the bottle out somewhere that is room temperature for a few hours and allow it to “melt”. 

The Robinvale Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Now that you have some insight into the differences between extra virgin olive oil and traditional olive oil, you can now select which product is most suited to your needs. 

Robinvale Estate stocks a range of olive oil products in addition to several extra virgin olive oils. Firstly, our Late Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil, is perfect for drizzling over steamed vegetables, makes a solid and flavoursome addition to marinades and all like dishes. 

Secondly, our Murray Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a more medium style or heavier oil compared to the Late Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil and is excellent in pasta dishes, salads, breads, and fish, and as it is a fresh cold pressed oil, it has solid lengthy flavours that bring to live even the simplest of dishes.  

Our other products such as our range of infused olive oils such as garlic infused olive oil, orange olive oil and chilli olive oil despite not being labelled extra virgin due to their additives, are still superior quality award winning products, that can transform any dish into a masterpiece! 

Undoubtedly, the key to successful cooking is using a premium quality oil. And now you know what to look for in a product, there is no reason your pasta’s, steamed vegetable and salad’s can’t be of restaurant quality all the time. Pair one of Robinvale Estates award winning oils with your home cooked dishes, and bring the restaurant to your home, every day!

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