Extra-virgin olive oil is an excellent resource provided to us directly from nature and which can only be obtained through the mechanical process of milling olives and is consumed directly, without the need for any further processing or treatment. This makes it an oil for food that is extracted using only physical procedures (pressure and centrifuge). To offer a comparison, other categories of food oils are industrially refined after having been extracted using solvents, then undergo the removal of acids, colour and odours in a vacuum with a temperature reaching about 200 °C.
The infinite aromatic notes of extra-virgin olive oil (green or herby fruits, floral, almond, green apple, tomato, etc.) are part of a matrix of about 200 volatile compounds that combine during the natural mechanical extraction process.
Within their peculiar production regulations, PDO and PGI extra-virgin olive oils have specific indications regarding the aromatic notes that they must have in order for the product to receive its own specific certification.
Due to its particular composition, extra-virgin olive oil is the most stable vegetable oil with regard to oxidation and has great advantages over alternative products:
- it oxidises less, because it is rich in low saturated (monounsaturated) fats;
- it is easy to absorb because it is rich in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that resists oxidation, both during its shelf life and while cooking.
However, phenolic compounds also influence their sensory properties, and manifest in particular as elements of bitter and spicy tastes that are directly due to the compounds’ molecular structure.
Because of this relationship between natural anti-oxidants and the spicy or bitter flavours, it is commonly said that extra-virgin olive oil with spicy or bitter accents are good for your health. It is acknowledged that both the taste aspects and the health aspects are directly influenced by the fine quality of the raw material, the olive, as well as the agricultural conditions and production processes, which for extra-virgin olive oil are all suitably managed and monitored according to the strictest European standards to obtain products of the highest quality.
Especially for PDO and PGI extra-virgin olive oil, the production standards in their respective production regulations must be followed. While for organic extra-virgin olive oil, special rules must be followed, such as harvesting olives directly from the plant and possibly by hand and milling must be carried out using special techniques that do not alter the properties of the product.