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Let's talk about Extra Virgin Olive Oil EVOO

Cold Pressed

  • Harvesting: The process begins with the harvesting of olives from olive trees. The olives are usually picked by hand to avoid damaging the fruit.

  • Cleaning: Once harvested, the olives are cleaned to remove leaves, twigs, and other debris. This is typically done using a water bath or air blowing process.

  • Crushing: The cleaned olives are then crushed into a paste. Traditionally, this was done with stone mills, but modern facilities often use stainless steel crushers. This step breaks down the olives into smaller pieces, including the pits.

  • Malaxation: The olive paste is then gently stirred or mixed for a period of time, usually around 20 to 40 minutes. This allows the small oil droplets to combine into larger ones, aiding in the extraction process. This step also helps release enzymes that improve the quality and flavor of the oil.

  • Pressing: The malaxed olive paste is then placed on mats or disks, which are stacked together to form a "press." In traditional cold-pressing, a hydraulic press exerts pressure on the olive paste to squeeze out the oil. The pressure helps separate the oil from the solid components, such as the pulp, skin, and pits

  • Separation: After pressing, the mixture of oil and water is separated. This can happen naturally through gravity or through centrifugation, where the oil is spun out from the water and solids. The resulting oil is a combination of the extracted oil and some natural moisture.

  • Filtration: Some producers may choose to filter the oil to remove any remaining solids or impurities. This step is optional but can result in a clearer, more refined oil.

  • Storage: The final cold-pressed olive oil is then stored in stainless steel tanks or dark glass bottles to protect it from light and air, which can cause oxidation.

This method of extraction retains more of the olive's natural flavor, aroma, and nutrients compared to other methods that use heat or chemical solvents. The result is often a higher quality oil with a distinct taste profile depending on the variety of olives used.

Low Acidity

Low acidity in extra virgin olive oil is an important quality indicator and is often associated with higher quality oils. Here's an explanation of what low acidity means in the context of extra virgin olive oil:

What is Acidity in Olive Oil?

  • Acidity in olive oil refers to the percentage of free fatty acids present in the oil. These free fatty acids are a natural byproduct of the olive fruit, and their presence is influenced by factors such as olive ripeness, handling, storage, and processing methods.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) Standards:

  • Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality and most flavorful olive oil classification. To be labeled as "extra virgin," the oil must meet certain chemical and sensory standards, one of which is low acidity.

 

Low Acidity:

  • The International Olive Council (IOC) sets the standard for extra virgin olive oil acidity at no more than 0.8%. This means that for an oil to be classified as extra virgin, its acidity level must be below this threshold.

Why Low Acidity Matters:

  1. Quality Indicator: Low acidity is a sign of high-quality olive oil. It indicates that the olives used were of good quality, harvested at the right time, and processed properly.

  2. Flavor and Aroma: Oils with low acidity levels often have a fresher, more vibrant flavor profile with fruity and grassy notes. Higher acidity oils can have a more sour or rancid taste.

  3. Health Benefits: Low acidity oils tend to have higher levels of antioxidants and polyphenols, which are beneficial for health. They also have a longer shelf life due to their more stable chemical composition.

  4. Stability: Oils with low acidity are less prone to oxidation, which can affect flavor and nutritional quality. This means they can maintain their quality for a longer period when stored properly.

 

Testing Acidity:

  • Acidity in olive oil is typically measured in a laboratory using a method called "Free Fatty Acid (FFA) test" or "Acid Value test." This involves titrating the oil with a solution of potassium hydroxide and then calculating the percentage of free fatty acids based on the amount of the solution needed to neutralize the acids.

 

Factors Affecting Acidity:

  • Olive Ripeness: Less ripe olives tend to produce oils with lower acidity.

  • Harvesting Time: Olives harvested earlier in the season often have lower acidity.

  • Processing: Proper handling and extraction methods can help maintain low acidity levels. In summary, low acidity in extra virgin olive oil is a key marker of quality, flavour, and health benefits. It reflects the careful handling of olives and the skilful processing methods used to produce premium olive oils.

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Nutritional Table of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Nutritional Information for Cold-Extracted Extra Virgin Olive Oil (per 1 tablespoon / 15 ml):

  • Calories: 120

  • Total Fat: 14 grams

    • Saturated Fat: 2 grams

    • Monounsaturated Fat: 10 grams

    • Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 grams

  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

  • Sodium: 0 mg

  • Total Carbohydrates: 0 grams

  • Dietary Fiber: 0 grams

  • Total Sugars: 0 grams

  • Protein: 0 grams

Key Nutrients in Cold-Extracted Extra Virgin Olive Oil:

  • Monounsaturated Fats: Predominantly oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.

  • Polyphenols: Retains higher levels of polyphenols compared to heat-extracted oils, providing antioxidant benefits.

  • Vitamin E: Contains vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), a fat-soluble antioxidant.

Additional Notes:

  • Cold-extracted extra virgin olive oil retains more of the olive's natural compounds due to the absence of heat during processing.

  • The absence of carbohydrates, sugars, and cholesterol makes it suitable for various dietary preferences.

  • The balance of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats contributes to its heart-healthy reputation.

These values are approximate and can vary slightly depending on the specific production year. Always refer to the nutrition label on the bottle for the most accurate information.

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