There are hundreds of varieties of olives that produce different types of olive oil. The taste, aroma and chemical properties of each kind of olive oil make it appropriate for certain uses (frying, cooking, dressing, canned…).
The best Spanish chefs know how to take advantage of the characteristics of each extra virgin olive oil, to prepare dishes of the highest level of excellence.
The quality of olive oil also influences its application. Olive pomace oil and olive oil are the most commonly used for frying. This is because the oil price is more economical and during the frying it is largely masked of the characteristics of the oil.
Virgin and Extra Virgin olive oils, in addition to frying, are frequently used in salad dressing and haute cuisine.
Although hundreds of olive varieties are grown in Spain, the most abundant olive oils are the most popular. Highlights the Picual olive oil, Cornicabra, Hojiblanca and Arbequina. Other extra virgin olive oils less abundant but recognized, are Verdial de Badajoz, oil Manzanilla Cacereña and Blanqueta.
There may be important differences within the same extra virgin olive oil. Like wine, the vintage is important. The climate to which the olive tree is exposed and the presence of pests or diseases of the olive tree, have an influence on the organoleptic quality of olive oil.
Factors that make the difference between types of olive oil
Another aspect to consider is the olives harvesting period, with important differences in the flavor and aroma of the oil. It is not the same to harvest the green olive, ripe and excessively ripe.
They are currently gaining prestige and value the extra-early harvest oils, for having herbaceous fruity very much appreciated.
The olive oil processing techniques also influence quality. Organoleptic properties are better preserved when cold olive oil extraction is performed.
The extra monovarietal virgin olive oils are currently gaining market. The consumer has a preference for stable flavors that he can identify periodically. It is not convincing to buy a spicy oil today and tomorrow a bitter one and identifying the variety is easier buy an olive oil that we like it.
Olive oil classification
According to quality, olive oil has the following types of classifications.
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
It is the highest category that can get an olive oil.
Its extraction is done directly from the olives and only by mechanical means (ground, milkshake, centrifugation…). Your acidity index is a maximum of 0.8 degrees (IOC), although some PDOs have lower requirements. In addition to acidity, extra virgin olive oil must be free of organoleptic defects (0.0). To obtain this level, the oil must be evaluated and overcome a demanding tasting panel.
Other chemical parameters analyzed are the peroxide index (less than 20 meq / Kg). The absorption of ultraviolet light (K270), used to measure the state of conservation of the oil should be less than 0.22.
2. Virgin Olive Oil
It is the second category within the types of olive oil. It is obtained by mechanical extraction. The International Olive Council establishes a maximum acidity is 2 degrees. Unlike extra virgin olive oil, may have some defects, and cannot exceed 3.5 (tasting panel score).
The peroxide index must be less than 20 meq / kg and K270 cannot exceed 0.25.
3. Olive Oil
For the commercialization of olive oil, refined olive oil is mixed with a certain amount of virgin olive oils. The mixture is necessary for olive oil to obtain color, flavor and aroma. The maximum acidity cannot exceed 1 degree. Despite its inferior quality to extra virgin and extra virgin olive oil, in Spain it is the best selling. Its slightly lower price favors its use for frying over the highest quality olive oils. It is usually marketed with two categories mild flavor olive oil and intense flavor olive oil.
4. Pomace Olive Oil
This variety of oil is extracted from the remains of alperujo and pomace, coming from the oil mills. Physical or chemical means (solvents) can be used for extraction. The oil initially extracted is called crude olive pomace oil and has to be refined before being suitable for human consumption. Oils obtained by re-esterification and mixtures with oils not derived from the olive tree are excluded.
Recently the OCU has recognized that the olive pomace oil is better for frying than sunflower.
5. Running olive oil
Although this type of olive oil cannot be commercialized in the EU, in other countries belonging to the IOC it is consumed without refining. It has an acidity between 2 and 3.3 degrees, peroxides below 20 meq / Kg and the K270 cannot exceed 0.25. On the other hand, oil defects cannot exceed 6 points. In the EU this type of olive oil is classified within the lampante olive oil.
6. Lampante Olive Oil
All olive oils with more than 3.3 degrees of acidity fall within this category, whose peroxide index exceeds the limit of 20 meq / Kg or with a K270 greater than 0.25. Due to its high acidity or other aspects it is not considered suitable for human consumption, being necessary to undergo a refining process.
Characteristics of the types of extra virgin olive oil
Similar to what happens with grapes and wine. The different existing types of olives provide organoleptic characteristics and distinctive properties to olive oils. Arbequina, Hojiblanca, Picual, Cornicabra and Camomile.
1. Arbequina extra virgin olive oil
Arbequina olive oil is increasingly abundant in the market, thanks to the super high density olive orchard of this variety.
Due to their low resistance to oxidation, mixtures with more stable olive oils such as Picual and Cornicabra are frequent.
With a very fruity and pleasant aroma, it is recommended for raw consumption.
In the market, the bulk prices of Arbequina olive oil are usually lower than the varieties that are easier to preserve.
2. Picual extra virgin olive oil
The Picual olive oil is the most abundant in Spain. It stands out for its high content of oleic acid and high resistance to oxidation.
In addition, it is one of the types of extra virgin olive oil with the highest content of oleocanthal (anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer).
It is a very versatile oil that is frequently used in stews, fried, canned, toast…
3. Hojiblanca extra virgin olive oil
The extra virgin olive oil Hojiblanca stands out for its fruity aroma and sweet taste with certain spicy touches.
It is stable so it can be used for frying, it is recommended for use in salad dressings, stews, carpachos, raw, oil toast…
4. Cornicabra extra virgin olive oil
Like Picual, the extra virgin olive oil Cornicabra is very stable and has a high presence of oleocantal.
Its use is recommended for frying and cooking.
5. Extra virgin olive oil Manzanilla
Chamomile Cacereña is a variety mainly grown in Extremadura.
The extra virgin olive oil Manzanilla Cacereñais increasingly appreciated nationally and internationally.
Its sweet and balanced flavor bind to a delicious fruity. Thanks to its high stability and mild flavor, it is a very versatile olive oil, among other uses, it can be used for frying, dressing, cook and brighten up the toast for breakfast.
The following publications may be of interest.
We have translated the information on our website from Spanish to English. Note that some words may have seen their meaning altered during their translation.