Olive Oil 101
What is PDO?
PDO stands for Protected Designation of Origin .The Protected designation of origin is the name of an area, a specific place or, in exceptional cases, the name of a country, used as a designation for an agricultural product or a foodstuff,
- which comes from such an area, place or country,
- whose quality or properties are significantly or exclusively determined by the geographical environment, including natural and human factors,
- whose production, processing and preparation take place within the determined geographical area.
In other words, to receive the PDO status, the entire product must be traditionally and ENTIRELY manufactured, prepared, AND produced within the specific region and thus acquire unique properties and taste that persist only in that region. In addition, strict rules and regulation are established by the European Union and they must be respected .
Olive Oil Nutritional Benefits
The greatest exponent of monounsaturated fat is olive oil, and it is a prime component of the Mediterranean Diet. Olive oil is a natural juice which preserves the taste, aroma, vitamins and properties of the olive fruit. Olive oil is the only vegetable oil that can be consumed as it is - freshly pressed from the fruit.
Olive oil is very well tolerated by the stomach. In fact, olive oil's protective function has a beneficial effect on ulcers and gastritis. Olive oil activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones much more naturally than prescribed drugs. Consequently, it lowers the incidence of gallstone formation.
Keep in mind however that these benefits are associated with quality EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL (like those offered by Virgin Coast Fine Foods Inc.) and not commercial blends or adulterated oils that claim to be extra virgin olive oil but are not. As a general rule if you’re paying below $10 a litre chances are you’re not getting quality extra virgin olive oil.
Olive Oil Production
Generally, olive oil is extracted by pressing or crushing olives. Olive oil comes in different varieties, depending on the amount of processing involved. Varieties include:
Types of Olive Oils
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) - considered THE BEST, least processed, comprising the oil from the first pressing of the olives
- Virgin - from the second pressing.
- Pure - undergoes some processing, such as filtering and refining.
- Extra light - undergoes considerable processing and only retains a very mild olive flavour.
When buying olive oil you will want to obtain a high quality EXTRA VIRGIN oil. The oil that comes from the first "pressing" of the olive, is extracted without using heat (a cold press) or chemicals, and has no "off" flavors is awarded "extra virgin" status. The less the olive oil is handled, the closer to its natural state, the better the oil. If the olive oil meets all the criteria, it can be designated as "EXTRA VIRGIN".
Olive Oil Acidity Levels
In general, the lower the acidity level and other impurities, such as peroxides and waxes in an olive oil, the higher in quallity it is. So, when buying an extra virgin olive oil, you want to look for the lowest possible values for the following:
This marks the presence of free fatty acids in the olive oil. These fatty acids in their free form are detrimental to cells, and as such we strive towards the lowest possible values. The ACIDITY rate which characterizes each olive oil product has always been a basic criterion of choice. However, since there are means through which the initial acidity can be eliminated via a chemical process, it goes without saying that consumers are often deceived. This is so because by presenting a very low, or even a zero value, of acidity, the product is rendered more marketable. Still, during this processing, or ‘refinement’, by which acidity is eliminated, many beneficial elements of the product, like vitamins, etc., are also removed, thus greatly reducing nutritional value. Although the refinement process eliminates the initial acidity of the product, it does not reduce the value of five remaining basic elements. The low value of these elements is an indication of good quality olive oil. Choose your cretan olive oil based not only in acidity but in those five elements too.
These values indicate the presence of various acidulous substances in the olive oil. The lower the finding, the greater is the retention of the product’s freshness.
This indicates the acidic condition of the olive oil (rancidity/rankness). The lower the findings, the lower the percentage of acidulous substances harmful to cells.
The olive crop is covered by waxy substances produced by the olive tree in order to protect its fruit from the environment. In part, this permeates the olive oil during the processing of the crop at the factory. Low findings of waxes are indicative of a product that has been extracted under optimum conditions at the factory and therefore boasts better quality and longer retention of freshness.
To summarize, it is important to note that in general, the lower the rates/findings of these elements in the olive oil we consume, the healthier and greater its nutritional value, as well as its retention of freshness through time.
It is for this reason, Virgin Coast's Terra Creta's EVOO is considered to be some of the best in the world. In fact, Terra Creta's standards exceed ALL allowable quality standards set by the European Union by 20%-30%, as shown by the chart below. The figures speak for themselves: