Virgin and extra virgin olive oil: find out how to choose the right oil for you

Olive oil SOL

Olive oil is a fundamental food in Mediterranean cuisine and is widely used throughout the world for its taste and nutritional properties. There are two most common varieties of olive oil: theextra virgin olive oil andvirgin oilAlthough both products are extracted from olives, there are significant differences in terms of production process, quality, taste, chemical composition and culinary uses.

From liquid gold olives: the fascinating production process of olive oil

THEextra virgin olive oil and virgin oil are both obtained by pressing olives, but what mainly distinguishes them is the quality of the olives used and the extraction process. Extra virgin olive oil is generally produced using high-quality olives hand picked and quickly transported to the oil mill to be processed, the olives are subsequently washed, ground and pressed using a cold mechanical process. This process, without the use of chemical solvents or high temperatures, ensures that the oil retains all its natural characteristics, including taste, aroma and nutrients, this type of oil must have free acidity less than 1% to be considered high quality.

Virgin oil, on the other hand, is produced with olives of slightly lower quality than extra virgin oil, through a less rigorous extraction process. It is extracted by cold pressing and, unlike the extra virgin one, it can have a slightly higher free acidity, up to 2%, and can have a less pronounced taste and aroma.

The organoleptic characteristics: a journey of taste

The extra virgin olive oil stands out for its fruity taste, with notes of fresh grass, ripe tomato, almond and a light spiciness, its color varies from an intense green to a bright golden, depending on the variety of olives used and the moment of the collection. This type of oil is known for its complexity and depth of flavor, which can vary depending on the production region and olive varieties.

In contrast, virgin olive oil may have a more delicate and less pronounced flavor than extra virgin olive oil, however, it can still offer a pleasant flavor profile, with light fruit notes and a slight bitterness or spiciness. Its color may be similar to that of extra virgin olive oil, but may be slightly lighter due to the slightly higher acidity.

Nutritional properties: benefits for health and well-being 

Both extra virgin olive oil and virgin oil are rich in monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health and may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, both also contain natural antioxidants, such as vitamin E and polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Despite this, it is important to remember that extra virgin olive oil, due to its more rigorous production process and superior quality, may contain higher levels of antioxidants and bioactive compounds than virgin oil.

Olive oil: the versatile ally of healthy cooking 

On our tables, extra virgin olive oil is often preferred for raw use, as a dressing for salads, raw vegetables, bruschetta and raw fish dishes. Its fresh and fruity taste goes perfectly with simple and fresh ingredients, adding depth and complexity to dishes, what's more, it is widely used in the preparation of sauces, marinades and condiments for pasta and rice.

As for virgin olive oil, let's see how it can be used in a similar way to extra virgin olive oil, but it is often preferred for cooking and light frying. Due to its stable chemical composition, this product is able to retain its properties even at moderate temperatures, making it a suitable choice for searing, stir-frying or baking.

Finally, remember to avoid overheating both oils, as it could alter their flavor and decrease their nutritional value.

In conclusion, we can say that extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil are two precious and versatile products, each with its own unique characteristics and culinary uses, while extra virgin olive oil stands out for its superior quality, its fruity taste and its low acidity content, virgin oil offers a cheaper and more versatile alternative for everyday cooking. Both oils offer health benefits and add a touch of authenticity and flavor to Mediterranean cuisine and beyond, whether dressing a fresh salad or preparing a baked dish, extra virgin olive oil and virgin oil are essential ingredients for a healthy and tasty diet.


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