What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil? A Complete Guide to Its Specifications

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Extra virgin olive oil is a delicious, healthy addition to your diet. But what exactly is it? Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality olive oil produced by cold-pressing fresh olives.

It’s classified as having no defects and having a superior taste and aroma. 

In this article, I’ll explain what it is, how it’s made, and why it’s so good for you. So, let’s get to it! It’s time to get the lowdown on this delicious golden liquid.

What is extra virgin olive oil

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Discovering the Unparalleled World of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is the highest quality of olive oil, produced by a traditional method of cold-pressing fresh olives. It is classified as an unrefined oil, meaning it is pure and natural, with no additional chemicals or processing methods used. The production process of EVOO is complex, and it requires experienced hands to maintain the quality of the oil. The standard for EVOO is set by the International Olive Council, and the oil must meet certain criteria to be classified as extra virgin. These criteria include:

  • The oil must be produced by mechanical methods only, without the use of solvents or chemicals.
  • The oil must be extracted from fresh olives within 24 hours of harvesting.
  • The oil must have a free acidity level of less than 0.8%.

What is the Difference Between Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Other Olive Oils?

Unlike other olive oils, EVOO is produced using a specific method that ensures its quality and purity. Other olive oils, such as pure olive oil or light olive oil, lack the complex flavor profile and additional health benefits found in EVOO. Additionally, EVOO is sold under specific brands and methods, and expert chefs usually recommend buying high-quality brands to ensure the actual quality of the oil.

Unveiling the Mystery of EVOO Specifications

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is a natural, unrefined oil that is obtained from the first cold press of the olives. To be classified as EVOO, the oil must meet specific quality standards and undergo a specific production process. Here are some of the specifications of EVOO:

  • Free fatty acid content: The acidity level of EVOO must be less than 0.8%.
  • Peroxide value: The peroxide value of EVOO must be less than 20 meq O2/kg.
  • UV absorbency: The UV absorbency of EVOO must be less than 0.22.
  • Characteristics: EVOO must have a specific flavor profile, aroma, and color.
  • Health benefits: EVOO contains antioxidants and has been linked to numerous health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease and depression.

How is EVOO different from other olive oils?

EVOO is the highest grade of olive oil and is obtained from the first cold press of the olives. It is unrefined and contains no additives. Other olive oils, such as virgin olive oil and refined olive oil, undergo a different production process and may contain additives. Here are some of the differences between EVOO and other olive oils:

  • Virgin olive oil: Virgin olive oil is also unrefined and obtained from the first cold press of the olives. However, it has a higher acidity level and lower quality characteristics than EVOO.
  • Refined olive oil: Refined olive oil undergoes a refining process that removes impurities and may contain additives. It has a lower quality and fewer health benefits than EVOO.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil is a blend of virgin and refined olive oils. It has a lower quality and fewer health benefits than EVOO.

How is EVOO produced?

EVOO is produced using a specific process that involves the following steps:

  • Harvesting: Olives are harvested from the trees by hand or using machines.
  • Washing: The olives are washed to remove any dirt or debris.
  • Crushing: The olives are crushed into a paste using a mill or press.
  • Malaxation: The paste is mixed to allow the oil droplets to combine.
  • Separation: The oil is separated from the paste using a centrifuge.
  • Storage: The oil is stored in stainless steel tanks until it is ready for bottling.

Can You Use EVOO for Cooking?

If you’ve heard that extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is only suitable for cold dishes, you’ve been misinformed. EVOO is actually a versatile ingredient that can add a delicious taste to many dishes. Here’s what you need to know about cooking with EVOO:

The Benefits of Cooking with EVOO

  • EVOO is rich in monounsaturated fats, which are considered healthier than other types of fats.
  • EVOO contains polyphenols, which are compounds that have been shown to have health benefits.
  • EVOO is stable at high temperatures, which means it’s less likely to produce harmful compounds when heated.
  • EVOO has a high smoke point, which makes it suitable for cooking at high temperatures.

How to Cook with EVOO

  • Start with a high-quality EVOO. Shop for EVOO that is labeled “cold-pressed” or “first cold-pressed” to ensure the best quality.
  • Use EVOO for dishes that don’t need to be cooked for a long time, as it may lose some of its health benefits when heated for too long.
  • Use EVOO for dishes that need a quick cook time, such as grilled beef or vegetables.
  • Use EVOO for dishes that need a lower heat, such as soups or blending ingredients for homemade recipes.
  • Use EVOO to add a finishing touch to dishes, such as drizzled over cold sandwiches, pastas, or tossed vegetables.
  • Combine EVOO with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, minced garlic, and dried oregano to make a delicious dressing for salads or as a marinade for meats.

A Quick Recipe to Enjoy

Try this quick and easy recipe to enjoy the benefits of cooking with EVOO:

  • Ingredients: 2 tablespoons of EVOO, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp of minced garlic, 1 tsp of dried oregano, salt and pepper to season.
  • Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Drizzle over grilled vegetables or toss with a salad for a delicious and healthy meal.

Assessing the Smoke Point of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

When it comes to cooking with oils, the smoke point is an essential element to consider. The smoke point is the temperature at which an oil begins to smoke and break down, producing harmful compounds and changing the flavor of the food.

How to Choose the Right Oil for Cooking?

Choosing the right oil for cooking is a great choice, but it can be difficult to know which oil to choose. Here are some things to consider when choosing an oil for cooking:

  • Smoke Point: The higher the smoke point, the safer the oil is for cooking at high temperatures.
  • Flavor: Some oils have a neutral flavor, while others have a rich, toasted flavor. Choose an oil that complements the dish you are cooking.
  • Versatility: Some oils, like extra virgin olive oil, are versatile and can be used for sautéing, frying, and as a substitute for butter or vegetable oil.

Unlocking the Secrets to Finding the Perfect EVOO

When it comes to choosing the best EVOO, don’t be fooled by fancy labels or marketing gimmicks. Instead, focus on the following factors:

  • Harvest Date: Look for EVOO that has been harvested within the last year for the freshest taste.
  • Origin: Choose EVOO from a specific region or country, as this can indicate the quality of the olives used.
  • Certification: Look for EVOO that has been certified by reputable organizations, such as the International Olive Council or the California Olive Oil Council.

Trust Your Senses

When it comes to EVOO, your senses are your best guide. Here’s what to look for:

  • Aroma: The aroma should be fresh and fruity, with hints of grass or herbs.
  • Taste: The taste should be complex and well-balanced, with a slight bitterness and a peppery finish.
  • Color: The color can vary depending on the type of olives used, but should be a vibrant green or golden yellow.

Test Before You Buy

Before committing to a bottle of EVOO, it’s important to taste it first. Many specialty stores offer tastings, or you can try the following at home:

  • Pour a small amount of EVOO into a glass.
  • Warm the glass in your hand to release the aroma.
  • Take a sip and let it coat your tongue.
  • Swallow and note the flavor and finish.

None of these words belong in an article section about how to choose the best EVOO. But by following these tips, you’ll be able to find the perfect EVOO to elevate any dish.

Is EVOO Really That Healthy?

EVOO, or extra virgin olive oil, is considered one of the healthiest oils available. It contains a high level of monounsaturated fatty acids, which are good for the heart and can help lower cholesterol levels. Additionally, EVOO is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, making it an excellent addition to any diet.

Some of the potential health benefits associated with EVOO include:

  • Protecting against heart disease: Research has shown that consuming EVOO can help improve heart function and lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Improving brain function: EVOO contains compounds that are linked to improved cognitive function and a lower risk of dementia.
  • Lowering inflammation: The antioxidants in EVOO can help reduce inflammation in the body, which is associated with a wide range of health problems.
  • Supporting healthy skin: The vitamins and antioxidants in EVOO can help improve skin health and protect against damage from the sun and other environmental factors.

The Production Process

The production process for EVOO is considered unique and natural. The olives are crushed to extract the oil, and the oil is then separated from the pulp. This process does not require any chemical methods, and the final product is labeled as “extra virgin” if it meets certain standardized criteria.

Using EVOO in Cooking

EVOO is a great alternative to other cooking oils, as it has a high smoke point and is loaded with healthy fats and antioxidants. It is also easy to use in the kitchen, as it can be added to a wide range of dishes for extra flavor and nutritional value.

Some tips for using EVOO in cooking include:

  • Mixing it with other oils: EVOO can be mixed with other oils to create a unique flavor profile and increase the overall health value of a dish.
  • Following the right method: EVOO should be added to a dish at the appropriate time and temperature to ensure that it retains its nutritional value and taste.
  • Using it as a finishing oil: EVOO can be drizzled over dishes as a finishing oil to add extra flavor and nutritional value.

Overall, EVOO is a powerful and healthy oil that plays a key role in the Mediterranean diet. People who follow a diet that includes EVOO may have a lower risk of certain health problems and may enjoy a range of impressive health benefits.

Choosing Between Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

When it comes to selecting the right oil for your recipe, it’s essential to know the differences between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil. Here are some critical features to consider:

  • Production: Extra virgin olive oil is produced by cold-pressing olives, while regular olive oil is a blend, including both cold-pressed and processed oils.
  • Quality: Extra virgin olive oil is considered superior due to its high standards of production and quality.
  • Acidity: The acidity of extra virgin olive oil is less than 0.8 percent, while regular olive oil can have up to 1.5 percent acidity.
  • Flavor: Extra virgin olive oil has a more robust and fruity flavor compared to regular olive oil, which is milder and less flavorful.
  • Nutrition: Extra virgin olive oil offers more health benefits due to its higher content of antioxidants and healthy fats.

Knowing When to Use Each Type

Now that you understand the differences between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil, it’s time to decide which one to use for your recipe. Here are some tips to help you make the right decision:

  • For cooking: Regular olive oil is a good choice for high-heat cooking, while extra virgin olive oil is better suited for low-heat cooking or as a finishing oil.
  • For salads and dips: Extra virgin olive oil is the best choice for dressings, dips, and marinades due to its robust flavor and nutritional benefits.
  • For baking: Regular olive oil is a suitable substitute for butter or vegetable oil in baking recipes.

Shopping for Olive Oil and EVOO

When shopping for olive oil or extra virgin olive oil, consider the following:

  • Read the label: Look for labels that indicate the oil meets international standards for extra virgin olive oil.
  • Look for a harvest date: Fresh oil is critical for optimal flavor and nutrition.
  • Consider the source: Italian cuisine considers extra virgin olive oil a foundational ingredient, so Italian oils are a good place to start.
  • Ask for advice: Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from a dietitian or an educated salesperson.

Rest Assured You’re Getting a Quality Product

To ensure you’re getting a quality product, look for oils that have been reviewed by an editorial website or meet the guidelines of the International Olive Council. Additionally, some oils offer a free acidity level, which refers to the percent of free acid in the oil and is determined by chemical analysis.

In conclusion, when it comes to selecting between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil, it’s essential to consider the differences in production, quality, acidity, flavor, and nutrition. Knowing when to use each type and shopping for a quality product will help you find the right oil for your recipe.


So there you have it, everything you need to know about extra virgin olive oil. It’s a delicious ingredient to add to your cooking, and it’s good for you too! It’s not as complicated as it seems, and now you know the secret to getting the most out of it. So go ahead and give it a try!

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.