We only sell extra-virgin olive oil – why’s that?

August 6, 2018 6:50 am Published by Leave your thoughts

At Naturally Good Food we stock many different types and sizes of extra-virgin olive oil. We’ve got it in organic and non-organic varieties, from various countries of origin. It comes in plastic bottles, glass bottles, large containers and rather fetching tins.

What we don’t have is ordinary, non-virgin olive oil. Why is that?

Well, it’s because research clearly shows that the benefits associated with olive oil are only present in significant quantities in extra-virgin olive oils. There’s no point buying an ordinary, non-virgin, blend of olive oil and expecting to reap all the benefits you’ve heard about. So, we don’t stock them.

Click here to see all the olive oils we stock (as well as products related to these).

Extra-virgin and ordinary olive oil: what’s the difference?

Olive oils are graded based on how they’re extracted, and their acidity.

‘Virgin’ olive oil means oil that is unrefined and unprocessed (and therefore ‘pure’). The oil may then be termed ‘extra-virgin’ if it has a particularly superior taste, colour and aroma. Critically, it must also have less than 1% free oleic acid.

Extra-virgin olive oil is derived from the first pressing of a batch of olives. Where the oil is described as ‘cold-pressed’, it will have been produced by a traditional method that uses no heat. (‘First-cold-pressed’ simply clarifies that the oil comes from the very first pressing of that particular batch of olives.)

Cold-pressing is considered to bring particular advantages, namely ensuring that the antioxidants, monounsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals of the olives remain intact.

Ordinary non-virgin olive oil, on the other hand, is derived from subsequent pressings of batches of olives. It’s a blended product, made from a range of lower-quality virgin olive oils. These oils are refined using mechanical, thermal or chemical processes, resulting in a product that has a much weaker, blander taste and a lighter colour. The fact that the oil tastes of olives at all is because in the final stages a little virgin olive oil is blended back in to the mix.

Regular olive oil has around 3-4% free oleic acid: it has a mild taste and a lighter colour. Extra-virgin olive oils, meanwhile, tend to have a fairly pronounced taste (although some, like our Emile Noel mild extra-virgin oil, are more subtle than others).

Why does it matter?

Most experts agree that for general cooking purposes, ordinary olive oil is better than many ‘traditional’ fats. However, for the full range of health benefits, you need to use an extra-virgin oil.  Extra-virgin olive oil is packed with antioxidants, including the anti-inflammatories oleocanthal and oleuropein. It’s rich in fatty acids, which give us energy, help build our cells and enable us to absorb other vitamins. It’s got a reasonable level of vitamins E and K too.

Extra-virgin olive oil can be used in cooking, for drizzling and for dressing food. With its wonderful colour, aroma and flavour, it’s the essence of sunshine in a cheap little bottle. No household should be without it!

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This post was written by Yzanne

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