Olive oil, like all food products, has by itself several categories based on quality. The main olive oil categories are extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), virgin (VOO), refined, and pomace. Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality and most expensive olive oil which is obtained directly from the fruit (in fact most of the times it is extracted within 24 hours of the harvest!), by mechanical and only methods, with conditions that do not harm or degrade the final product (for example, the temperature in the extraction process does not exceed 27°C at all times).
EVOO’s are generally characterized for their low acidity (lower than 0.8%), high in antioxidants (polyphenols – we will talk about olive oil chemistry on a forthcoming post), and vitamins, and result in a great range of taste profiles. This includes intense fruity aromas, bitter and spicy notes (in fact bitterness is indicative of its freshness!), along with grassy, floral, herbaceous, and many more pungent aftertastes.
Of course, this fine quality olive oil is very hard to make. A lot of effort goes into the cultivation process, throughout the year, by the farmers, whose concern and actions make it happen. Irrigation, fertilization, pest control, pruning, and harvesting, are the main practices the farmer has to carry out, along with the best eco-friendly agricultural supplies, in order to produce quality olives, which in turn makes into a fine oil product.
Harvest does not always start in the same period. It depends on the weather condition during summer and autumn, and factors such as rain and temperature have a significant role to decide when the harvest begins. The main indicator (depending on the variety of course!) is when the olives start to gradually change color from light green to purple or black.
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