What is Extra Virgin?
To put it simply: Extra Virgin Olive Oil = fresh, seasonal fruit juice.
Just like your fresh greens and tomatoes from the farmers market, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is seasonal and you want to consume the freshest, healthiest, tastiest harvest possible! That's why one of the most important things to look for when purchasing an EVOO is the crush date (when it was harvested). Best before dates hold no significance when choosing an olive oil, because there are no regulations forcing markets to remove old olive oil from their shelves. When an olive oil is left on store shelves it oxidizes and decomposes, creating free radicals and unpleasant flavors. We rotate between two harvests to ensure you're consuming the freshest, tastiest, healthiest EVOO at any time of the year. Northern hemisphere EVOOs (from the Mediterranean and California) are crushed in the fall, and Sourthern hemisphere EVOOs (Australia, Argentina, and Chile to name a few) are crushed in the spring. This is where our name takes it's meaning; "Olive del Mondo" means "Olives of the World" in Italian.
Buying EVOO at a supermarket is a gamble. Unfortunately, a University of California study found that over 69 percent of olive oils labeled as "Extra Virgin" are not. This is because there are no regulations as to what can be labeled as "extra virgin" in America. To view the UC Davis study, click here.
So how do we know our oils are truly extra virgin? By testing each for both chemical and organoleptic properties, which must meet the International Olive Oil Council Standards. We even test our oils for DAGs and PPP scores (more on these below), which haven't been adopted by the International Olive Oil Council yet, but are arguably two of the most important tests and the future of olive oil testing. Our motto is "If an oil doesn't have chemistry, don't eat it!" These values and properties are an indication of the quality of the fruit, how it was harvested, processed, and stored, how old the oil it is, and if the oil has been adulterated, refined or deodorized. Therefore, they indicate how healthy, tasty, and satisfactory an olive oil is.
Detailed information on the chemistry below!
PV: Peroxide Value. Measures primary oxidation products that are formed when oils are exposed to oxygen. Indicates decomposition and rancidity of the oil. Maximum value 20meq O2/kg. A low peroxide value is desirable. Unsaturated free fatty acids react with oxygen and form peroxides, which create a series of chain reactions that generate volatile substances responsible for a typical musty/rancid oil smell. These reactions are accelerated by high temperature, light, and oxygen exposure. If PV is high, these could be the cause:
- The oil is old
- Stored in clear bottles/ exposed to excess light/heat/air
FFA: Free Fatty Acid. This value speaks to the quality of the fruit at the time of crush, processing, and storage. Maximum 0.8g per 100g, or 0.8%. A low FFA is desirable. If this FFA is high, these could be the cause:
- Overripe olives
- Insect infestation
- Oxidized oil
- Overheating during production
- Too much of a delay between harvest and crush (our oils are processed within 6 hours of picking)
PPP: Measures the degradation of chlorophyll in olive oil caused by oxidation, age, and adulteration/ refinement. Must be 15% or lower (percentage of total pheophytins). A low PPP value is desirable. Ours are less than 0.2. This degradation of chlorophylls to pyropheophytin was found to take place at a predictable pace, making it possible to gain information about the age of an olive oil. The rate at which the degradation occurs can be accelerated by even short periods of high temperatures – such as that which is utilized during the deodorizing or soft column refining process – making it a useful indicator of the presence of deodorized olive oil as well as the age of the oil. If PPP value is high, it could mean that:
- The oil was soft column refined, or deodorized (this is particularly true if the oil’s chemistry looks okay, but it’s PPP value is high)
- The oil is old
OLEIC: Oleic Acid. Measures the amount of healthy monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. Between 55-85%. Olive oil is generally higher in oleic acid than other vegetable fats. Extra virgin olive oil high in oleic acid has greater resistance to oxidation.
HI POLY: Measures the amount of
healthy polyphenols (a class of antioxidants found in a variety of
varies. For maximum health benefits look for an EVOO high in polyphenols - any amount over 300 is considered high, and we have oils with polyphenol counts
over 700! Measured in mg caffeic acid/kg. Antioxidants inhibit oxidation in the
body, making a higher polyphenol count desirable. A high polyphenol count also
lengthens the shelf-life of oil. If
a polyphenol count is low it could mean that: Polyphenols such as Oleuropein, Oleocanthal, and Hydroxytyrosol
impart intensity connected with pepper, bitterness and other desirable flavor
characteristics. Recent studies indicate that these potent phenols are
responsible for many of the health benefits associated with consuming fresh,
high quality extra virgin olive oil. Phenols in olive oil decrease over time or
when exposed to heat, oxygen and light. Consuming fresh, well-made olive
oil with high polyphenol content is crucial when looking to obtain the maximum
health benefit commonly associated with consuming extra virgin olive oil.
DAGs Test/Score. Measures the proportion of two forms of diacylglycerol: 1,2 and 1,3 which indicates the quality of the fruit, processing and age of an oil. Must be greater than 40% (At least a ratio of 40% in the 1,2 formation). The closer to 100%, the healthier and fresher the EVOO. Ours are as high as 98.5%.
In a fresh oil made from sound olives of good quality, the prevalent form of DAG is the 1,2 form where the fatty acids are bonded to a glycerol molecule in the 1 and 2 positions. The bond on the 2 position is weak and easily broken, leading to the migration of that 2 position fatty acid to the 3 position.
makes the ratio of 1,2 DAGs to the total DAG’s a good indicator of the quality
of the olive fruit and the processing.
- It is also an indicator of the age of an oil, since the migration from 1,2 to 1,3 DAGs takes place naturally as the oil ages.
- Warmer storage temperatures, and higher free fatty acid levels will both accelerate this process.