Established in 1993, Casa Italia Gourmet Food & Wines is a leading importer and distributor of Italian food and wine.

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Extra virgin olive oil or olive oil, do you know the difference?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil?

The first olive trees were cultivated about 6,000 years ago in present day Syria, Israel and Palestine and have been used in cooking for thousands of years.

Picking olives usually beings as early as September and lasts until November and December. Olives picked while they are still green and not quite ripe hold very rich flavours and aromas, also showing a much more intense green colour.

Olives can also be picked at the red ripe stage, with the oil obtained it is then blended with oils which were picked earlier, to produce a much more balanced product.  Olive oil is graded by its amount of acidity and the type of pressing which is done to the olive.

Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality of oil possible as it is pressed from fruit juice without the additives.  It ranges in colour from a crystalline Champaign, to greenish gold, to bright green and has an acidity of less than one percent.

Extra virgin olive oil can be used raw on salads because of its intense fruit taste. Generally the process of producing this type of oil is extremely time-consuming for very little production volume.

Official chemical testing is done in laboratories and a sensory evaluation must be conducted for an oil to be qualified as ‘extra virgin’. This is recognised by the International Olive Council who is particular in the oil to be free from defects while exhibiting some fruitfulness.  The attributes of extra virgin olive oil come from its unique and fullness of flavour which varies from fruity, bitter and pungent allowing you to pour this flavoursome product over salads and other foods.

‘Normal’ or as some may know it as ‘pure’ olive oil is blended oil, which consist of both virgin olive oil and refined olive oil.  It has an acidity reading of approximately 3.3 percent. If the olives are processed correctly the olive oil will maintain the purity of the fruit’s aroma and its flavour.  The oil does not have as much of a distinct taste and is best suited for frying and cooking.