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Here’s another question about liquids from Rob, who claims to be stuck at work. From his question, I’m guessing he works at an olive oil factory, and he isn’t too good at his job. He asks:
What’s the difference between olive oil, virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil?
Several pounds in price. And a vow of chastity.
Alright FINE. There’s more, but it’s a bit boring and technical, ok? I was merely trying to save you with glibness.
I’ve checked my weekly newsletters from the International Olive Oil Council, which says that olive oil is ‘Oil obtained solely from the fruit of the olive tree (Olea europaea L.) to the exclusion of oils obtained using solvents or re-esterification processes and of any mixture with oils of other kinds.’
So, oil made out of olives. Simple enough so far.
Here’s what they have to say about virgin olive oil: ‘Olive oil fit for consumption as it is. Olive oil obtained from the fruit of the olive tree (Olea europea L.) solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions, particularly thermal conditions, that do not lead to alterations in the oil, and which has not undergone any treatment other than washing, decantation, centrifugation and filtration.
Virgin olive oil which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 2 grams per 100 grams and the other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category in the IOC standard (COI/T.15/NC No 3).’
Everyone still following? Oil. Made of olives. Not heated up too much. No more than 2% acidic. Numbers and letters. So what of the extra virgin olive oil, that which Jamie Oliver pours over his cornflakes? That is:
‘Virgin olive oil fit for consumption as it is which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams, and the other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category in the IOC standard (COI/T.15/NC No 3).’
So there I was, thinking the adjectives referred to how many pressings the olives had been through or something, but actually it’s all a matter of acid. Back to work, everybody.