What is High Quality Olive Oil?

High Quality Olive Oil is the pure oil that is obtained from the fruit of olive trees. No oils that are obtained using solvents, re-esterification processes, or mixed with other vegetable oils qualifies under this description.

There are many different varieties of olive from which oil can be produced, and each one brings a unique flavour and quality to the oil. Mono-varietals or monocultivarolive oils are made by blending one olive variety together, while some olive oils are made by blending many. It’s the variety of olive, along with the maturity of the fruit, that contributes most to the flavour of the oil.

Olive Oils that are described as “virgin” are those that have been obtained from the original fruit without having been synthetically treated. When the olives have been picked, pressed, and then washed, the only other processes that have taken place are decantation, centrifugation to extract the oil, and filtration.

The best quality Olive Oil that is available is described as “extra virgin”.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the highest quality and most flavourful olive oil classification. In order for an oil to qualify as “extra virgin” the oil must also pass both an official chemical test in a laboratory and a sensory evaluation by a trained tasting panel recognised by the International Olive Council.

Olive oil tasters describe the positive attributes in the following terms:

  • Fruity: Having pleasant spicy fruit flavours characteristic of fresh ripe or green olives. Ripe fruit yields oils that are milder, aromatic, buttery, and floral. Green fruit yields oils that are grassy, herbaceous, bitter, and pungent. Fruitiness also varies by the variety of olive.
  • Bitter: Creating a mostly pleasant acrid flavour sensation on the tongue.
  • Pungent: Creating a peppery sensation in the mouth and throat.

Extra virgin olive oil is the most expensive type, and is made from the first cold pressing of the olives. It has a very low acidity rate (under 1%) and is best used for dipping or to dress salads – both because its flavour is impaired by heat and because it has a low smoking point.

Virgin olive oil is also a first pressing, but has a slightly higher acidity level (under 2%). It should be used in much the same way as extra virgin, and can also be used to cook Mediterranean dishes to create an authentic flavour (but should not be used for deep frying).

Refined to remove its impurities, and blended to improve flavour, pure olive oil is the cheapest olive oil there is. Its flavour is quite bland, so it’s not worth using it on salads, but it’s a good all-purpose cooking oil.

Oils from Spain tend to be smooth, sweet and fruity, with hints of melon and nuts and very faint bitterness – they’re quite versatile.

The flavour of Italian oils varies from region to region. The north produces oils that are mild, slightly nutty, and very good with fish. Oils from the centre of the country are stronger-tasting, with grassy notes. Southern Italy, including Sicily, produces oils that have a drier, more herbal flavour.

Greek olive oils are herby, fruity and sometimes peppery – good all-rounders.

Sauce Fine Foods is proud to present two of the highest quality brands of quality olive oil: