Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive-Oil.co.uk - Extra Virgin
Extra virgin olive oil is a creation made from the tinkering and restructuring of virgin olive oil. It is derived from the initial pressing of the olive fruit and is therefore supposed to have the most unique and delicate taste.
Done to invent an alternative to the standard organic olive oils, extra virgin olive oil is said to be thicker and have a more prominent flavour. The main difference between the two is that the level of acidity in the adapted version is much lower, dropping to under 0.8% of the entire quantity. The perceived superior taste is why is it predominantly used as a condiment or accompaniment to dishes, rather than as a cooking oil or preservative. This is the oil that you will see being liberally applied to salads or cold meats in Spanish and Italian cuisine.
However, the delicacy of the produce also makes it inferior when used as a lubricant or cooking base. When it reaches high temperatures it loses its unique flavour and can actually give off toxicants. Therefore, it is rarely used when frying raw meat or fish.
Some may associate the taste of extra virgin olive oil with pure oil (the supermarket equivalent), which is a reasonable assumption. Pure oil is refined oil that has had extra virgin olive oil added to it to try and regain the strong flavours of an organic source. However, refined oils have received various chemical enhancements that can be detrimental to the body and have none of the health benefits of virgin olive oil. Virgin olive oils have been shown to prevent heart disease and are often a staple diet of many elderly people in the Mediterranean. The easiest give away to whether or not a bottle is organic or not is through the use of the word 'virgin'. If this is present of the casing then you can be sure that it is made of nothing but the contents of the olive fruit. Often bottles will be plastered with the message '100% pure olive oil', which is one of the tell-tale signs that it is riddled with harmful substances and additives that you simply do not need.
The presence of pure oils and refined oils has provoked the formation of a regulating body called the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC). This authority governs a host of issues relating to olive oil, ensuring that cheap manufactured alternatives are unable to masquerade as virgin olive oil. This is vital in the production of extra virgin olive oil, as it is a luxury product that relies on quality to maintain its reputation. The IOOC is charged with tracking production and testing bottles to ensure that they adhere to the strict specifications.
The price of extra virgin oil is very cheap in comparison to other salad dressings such as balsamic vinegar and balsimico tradizionale. A 250ml bottle will usually cost in the region of £2.75. This will certainly be more expensive than the equivalent amount of pure olive oil, and will often come with a authentic Mediterranean casing.