Varieties of olive oils

Olive oil is a key product in the economic and social structure of the province of Jaén. This importance is evidenced by the high percentage on the surface cultivated with olive trees and consequently their high weight in agricultural production, as for the relevance in the industrial sector and specifically in the manufacturing industries represented by mills producing olive oil operating in the province.

Actually could be found testing laboratories specialized in physical and chemical determinations of olive oil and olives, olive plants breeding grounds, agricultural machinery and mills, a large trade in specific products for the cultivation of olive trees.

Industrial production of olive oil is traditionally called “almazara” (mills). The main product of a mill is the virgin olive oil. It is so called the juice and oil extracted from olives only by mechanical or other physical processes (not involving the use of any chemical solvent) and conditions, especially heat, which does not adversely affect the oil.

It is necessary to clarify that not all are virgin olive oils and in the virgin rank, not all have the same category. To clarify this point we’re going to make a classification of olive oils:

1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: It should be regarded as the best olive oil, as it reproduces the scent and flavor of the olives from which it comes. Olives that have been compiled in his best time of maturity and has been properly processed. Its technical characteristics are an acidity of less than 0.8% and a tasting score over than 6.5 points. Within this category, we can find a wide range of oils with different scents and flavors that depend on the variety of olives from which they come and on the conditions of the climate and soil, etc., in which they have been cultivated. This breadth of flavors allows reaching a larger number of consumers.

2. Virgin Olive Oil: It was formerly known as fine oil. It presents slight alterations, mainly sensorial, but always on a small scale, which depreciates its quality against extra virgin olive oil. It is characterized to own an acidity of less than 2% and a tasting score superior than 5.5 points.

These two virgin olive oil categories are the unique ones that are packaged in the market.

3. Normal Virgin olive oil: It presents sensible alterations in his physical-chemical characteristics or in the tasting (flavour and scent). It is characterized by having acidity inferior to 3.3% and one tasting score superior to 3.5 points. This oil of inferior quality can be used in two ways:

  • If their characteristics are not excessively damaged it is used in the composition of olive oils, that we will see later.
  • If their characteristics are sensibly altered it is put under refining.

4. Lampante Virgin olive oil: This is the worse one of virgin olive oil. It presents great alterations. It is characterized by an acidity superior to 3.3% and one tasting score inferior to 3.5 points. This oil cannot be consumed as it is and it is necessary to put it under a refining process to make it eatable, giving rise to the olive refined oil that owns neutral sensorial characteristics (practically without flavor nor scent) and that is used as basis for the composition of other oils.

5. Olive oil: It was formerly known as pure olive oil, it is other type oil that is packaged, being at present time the one that owns the greater market share. It is an oil constituted by refined il and virgin olive oil in variable proportions according to the characteristics of the oil that is tried to obtain.

As the greasy subproduct of the elaboration of the olive oil in the mills a residue is obtained (solid rest of the olive), that can also be classified in:

1. Oil of Crude Residue: The residue still owns a certain amount of oil that cannot be extracted by the use of physical methods in an oil mill, but with organic chemical dissolvents. This way the oil of crude residue is obtained.

2. Refined Oil of Residue: The oil of crude residue is not apt for the direct use, reason why it is necessary to put it under a refining process, being the refined residue oil obtained. This oil is also not valid for direct use.

3. Oil of Olive Residue: Mixing the refined residue oil with virgin olive oil this category is obtained, giving rise to a packaged product available for the consumer.