Frequently Asked Questions.
Answers to FAQ's about extra virgin olive oil.
Dr Richard Gawel
Lots of people ask questions about extra virgin olive oil, but few have the time or energy to listen to complex, lengthy answers to their questions. Richard Gawel, international judge and consultant taster of extra virgin olive oil, answers some of the most commonly asked questions about extra virgin olive oil - all in 30 words or less.
What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
It is the oil extracted from fresh good quality olives using a mechanical process without the use of excessive heat or any form of additives or solvents.
Extra Virgin Grade Olive Oil – what is it?
If the olives are disease free and are processed without delay using a clean mill, they will produce a clean, fresh extra virgin olive oil.
Difference between extra virgin & pure or light olive oil?
EVOO is the naturally extracted juice from fresh olives. Pure or light olive oils have been refined which removes all the flavours and natural antioxidants.
What is pomace oil?
It is the lowest commercial grade of olive oil. It is solvent extracted from the waste material from olive oil production.
Do “light” olive oils contain fewer calories than EVOO?
No. All olive oils (and indeed all edible oils) have very similar energy values.
What does “light” olive oil mean?
The word “light” is used in the context of the olive oils having light (minimal) aroma, flavour and colour.
Should I buy first cold pressed oil?
Most EVOO is now produced by spinning the lighter oil away from the other components of the olive such as water and olive matter using centrifugal force.
Are extra virgin olive oils good for my health?
EVOO’s contain higher levels of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants than other oils. These attributes are sought after by the health conscious.
What is meant by robust and mild EVOO?
Robust oils have strong bitterness and/or pepperiness. Mild oils are much lower in these characters.
Does the colour of olive oil indicate quality?
No. Good quality extra virgin olive oils range in colour from emerald green through to golden yellow.
What do I look for in a retailer of EVOO?
Someone who can advise on the right style of EVOO for your intended use and only stock new season’s oils. Even better, buy from the person who made the oil.
There are so many EVOO’s to choose from:
what do I look for?
Purchase an olive oil that is useful for the culinary purposes you require and buy current season’s oils as these will be the freshest.
What is the difference between early and late harvest oils?
Early harvest oils are made from greener olives, and are often more herbaceous, bitter and peppery flavours. Late harvest oils are milder and display riper fruit flavours.
Where do I store extra virgin olive oil?
Olive oils should be stored in a cool dark place. For longer term storage where oils are used infrequently, refrigeration is a good option.
How long can I expect my EVOO to last?
EVOO’s are best consumed young when their fresh flavours and healthful polyphenols are maximised. They do not improve with age. So when the new season oils are released, buy them.
Can I use extra virgin olive oils for frying?
Yes. The smoke point of good quality EVOO is within the temperature range typical of shallow frying.
Can I reuse olive oil?
Yes, olive oil can be reused a few times. However, heating causes losses in flavour, freshness and healthfulness. It also begins to smoke at a lower temperature each time it is reheated.
Can I use olive oil in the microwave?
Yes, research has shown that olive oils heated by microwaving retain their natural polyphenols to a much greater extent compared with traditional heating methods.
What are the positive attributes of EVOO?
Fruitiness, bitterness and pepperiness. All good oils must have some olive character. Bitterness and pepperiness are optional extras, but most consumers like some of these characters.
What do bad oils taste like?
The most common problems are staleness, brined olive, mouldy, salami, mature cheese, vinegary and solvent like.
What is the most common olive oil defect?
Rancidity which smells like old oil, stale peanuts or putty. This is the inevitable result of the ageing of all edible oils – EVOO included.
What do words like Koroneiki, Kalamata,
Frantoio and Coratina mean on a label?
These are referring to varieties of olives from which the oil is made. Varieties are subtlety different genetic versions of the same olive species.
*Dr Richard Gawel is based in Australia where he has been a long time appointee as Presiding Judge of most of the country’s major olive oil shows. Richard is also a Presiding Judge of a number of international olive shows. A member of the technical committee of the Australian Olive Association, he has published a number of scientific papers on olive oil assessment. A scientific statistician by profession, Richard also writes an olive oil blog, Slick Extra Virgin. He works in wine research, primarily with white wine phenolics, and lives in Adelaide with his family. Richard’s Twitter account: @oliveoilguy