Virgin versus extra virgin olive oil

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Virgin versus extra virgin olive oil

Not clear on why olive oil is categorised as one or the other on the label? Read on

Extra virgin olive oil is extracted from fresh olives by pressing or centrifuging, hasn’t been chemically refined or rectified in any way and has a natural free fatty acidity of under 0.8%. Virgin olive oil is similarly completely unrefined, but can have a free acidity of between 0.8% and 2%, denoting poorer quality, harsher flavour and shorter shelf-life.

So what’s free acidity?
Olive oil consists of a natural blend of securely bonded fatty acids; mainly monounsaturated oleic acid. Exposure of the oil to heat, oxygen, light or water, slowly breaks these fatty acids o their mother molecules to yield free fatty acids. Saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids are relatively resistant to such molecular breakdown. The high level of natural antioxidants in extra virgin olive oil also helps to prevent this breakdown.

Yes, but can you cook with it?
Guido says go for it: “Monounsaturated fats like those in extra virgin olive oil actually do well with heat; it’s more about not being able to appreciate the subtle flavours of the oil in the same way as you could when it’s drizzled over a salad – similar to adding a really expensive bottle of wine to a stew.” So save it for dipping and dressing, and use less expensive olive oil for cooking.

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TASTE Article by: TASTE

The TASTE team is a happy bunch of keen cooks and writers, always on the look out for the next food trend or the next piece of cake.

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