"Extra Virgin.” What does it mean? Why “extra”? For that matter, why “virgin”?
Don’t worry, we’ll explain. Olive oil is a type of cooking oil, and cooking oils fall into 2 categories, “virgin” and “non-virgin”. Virgin typically means some fruit,vegetable or seed has been squeezed or pressed; no chemicals are involved.Non-virgin oils are got by squeezing things, and then getting more out of what’s left with chemical solvents, which are rinsed away. Sunflower oils, palm oils, non-virgin colza oils are all made this way. Yes; it’s pretty yuk.
Any virgin olive oil (VOO), then, has to be obtained only by mechanical means; squishing,stirring, spinning etc. In the old days we’d have said it was “cold pressed”.
EXTRA virgin olive oil or EVOO is a grade above that. It means 1) it tastes good and there are no so called “defects”, and 2) it comes from good quality, fresh olives. This latter is mostly measured by something called “free fatty acid content”, or FFA. These are bad molecules that you get in old, skanky olives and old, badly kept olive oil. Or oil that was heated up for a long time. You get them when the healthy triglycerides that make up EVOO degrade if exposed to light, heat, oxygen, and, sadly, time. FFAs eat up all the antioxidants and the great taste of an EVOO. FFAs are bad.
The magic number is 0.8%. If your olive oil has more than 0.8% FFA content, it’s not EVOO. It’s VOO. And if it’s more than 2% FFA, it’s not even VOO. It’s just plain Olive Oil (OO?), “olive pomace oil” or something horrible called Lampante.
Some mills and bottlers “refine” lampante, pomace, and used olive oil. This sounds nice but isn’t. it means treating the oil, rinsing out the bad tastes and the FFAs soit tastes of nothing at all. You can buy refined olive oil in supermarkets! But of course, you shouldn’t; it’s just a nutrient-free calorie bomb, with none of the goodness of actual fresh EVOO.
Worse is when olive oil blenders, like the big supermarket brands, mix combinations of expensive EVOOs, cheaper VOOs, lampante or refined oils, and make their olive oil exactly 0.8% FFA. So it counts as EVOO and you can sell it at a higher price! The bottles are often filled in Italy and look Italian. But the contents mostly come from Spain, Greece and Tunisia. This is actually legal. Some blenders may use only EVOO to create their blends. But if they don’t say what’sin their “EVOOs”, how can we know?
EVOO is a true super food. Produced properly, it will prolong your life, make you younger,make you smarter and less likely to go la la in your old age. What we get in supermarkets often is only dressed up to look like it.
That’s why we created Amfora; we’re tired of an industry that robs farmers of their income and you of healthy food. You can be sure all our EVOOs really ARE extra virgin;we connect you with the farmers that make the stuff!
Yassine, Manager and Head Chef
Les Fourneaux du Manège
Sème ta graine