Olive oil has long been known as a staple in Mediterranean cuisine and is gaining popularity worldwide due to its numerous health benefits and unique flavor profiles. One of the key factors that determine the quality and flavor of olive oil is its acidity level. Learn more about how acidity affects different grades of olive oil.
What is Acidity in Olive Oil?
Acidity measures the content of free fatty acids present in the oil. Free fatty acids are natural components of all fats and oils, including olive oil, and their presence in higher quantities indicates a lower quality oil.
Acidity is measured as a percentage of free oleic acid, which is the primary monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Acidity levels are defined based on the percentage of free oleic acid present in the oil. The lower the acidity level, the higher the quality of the olive oil.
Olive Oil Grades based on Acidity Levels
According to the standards of the International Olive Council (IOC), there are three main grades of olive oil based on acidity levels:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO): EVOO is the highest grade of olive oil, known for its superior flavor and quality. To qualify as extra virgin, olive oil must have an acidity level of less than 0.8%. This means that less than 0.8% of the oil is composed of free oleic acid. EVOO undergoes minimal processing and is derived from the first pressing of the olives, resulting in a naturally low acidity and rich flavor profile.
- Virgin Olive Oil: Virgin olive oil is also derived from the first pressing of the olives but has a slightly higher acidity level than extra virgin oil. Virgin olive oil must have an acidity level below 2%, still indicating a good quality oil with acceptable flavor characteristics.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil labeled simply as "olive oil" or "pure olive oil" has higher acidity levels compared to extra virgin and virgin olive oil.
Oils with lower acidity levels indicate that the olives used in their production were carefully handled, properly harvested, and processed promptly. So, the next time you savor that drizzle of our Joy and Vitality extra virgin olive oil on your favorite dish, remember that its low acidity is a testament to the quality and care put into its production, ensuring an exquisite flavor experience.