First, olive oil is considered “extra virgin” when it has been produced by a simple pressing of the olives. Other grades like “virgin olive oil” and “olive oil” means that the olive oil is extracted from the olives by mechanical means or produced using chemicals and other processes to extract the oil from the olives. Second, extra virgin must meet certain laboratory tests on things like acidity, levels of peroxide, and other criteria. Finally, extra virgin olive oil must taste like olives and it can’t have any negative tastes that professionals refer to as “organoleptic defects.”
Many readily available vegetable oils – canola, safflower, peanut, etc – even non-virgin olive oil – are chemically dissolved out of the plant material, and then the solvent is boiled off. Unless the label on a vegetable or nut oil indicates that it has been expelled or expressed (and the price confirms this expensive method), you can assume it has gone through chemical processing.
Now, back to extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). This means that the virgin olive oil has passed chemical tests for purity and taste tests to assure the absence of spoilage flavors. You should be able to count on getting a healthy, tasty olive oil, possessing the flavors of the olive fruit. EVOO must have a certified acidity of less than .8% with some of the best EVOO offerings having less than .3% acidity. Because of these stringent standards, EVOO accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries. Little Angel’s 2014 harvest was tested at .27% acidity. We are very proud parents!