Guide to Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This This newsletter from the Healthy Butcher dropped in my inbox with some good info on olive oil that I will just poach here:

Top Factors affecting Olive Oil Flavour

The Olive Oil Source lists the following 6 factors as the top factors affecting olive oil:

  1. Quality production and storage methods – you must start with good olives
  2. Fruit Maturity – a Tuscan and a Spanish olive picked green may produce a more similar oil than a Tuscan olive picked late or early in the season. All olives begin life as a green fruit. The flesh is composed of acids and sugars. As the fruit ripens on the tree, these acids and sugars convert to oil, and the olive changes from green through to violet and then black. The only difference between green olives and black olives is ripeness. Unripe olives are green, whereas fully ripe olives are black.
  3. Olive Variety – there is a big difference between an olive oil made from Greece’s Koroneiki, a strongly fruity, herbaceous olive, and Spain’s Hojiblanca, an aromatic and mildly pungent olive. To read more about olive variety and maturity, click here to read an article by Paul Vossen, an Olives/Olive Oil and Pomology Farm Advisor at the University of California.
  4. Growing Region
  5. Seasonal variations in weather and growing conditions
  6. Pressing Method – Although much is made of different pressing techniques, if properly done they will produce very similar oils with the same olives.

There is more good info on tasting, and some picks that are probably most applicable if you are in Toronto/Canada.

Also a good reminder that extra virgin olive oil isn’t a great choice for high heat applications (though the writer downplays this, why not stay away from olive oil with high heats altogether in lieu of butter, animal fats, coconut or palm oil?):

Smoking Point and Typical Uses of Common Oils
Canola Oil242C/468FFrying, baking
Refined Olive Oil225C/437FSautee, stir fry
Grape seed oil204C/399FCooking, salad dressings
Olive Oil Extra Virgin190C/374FCooking,dressings, flavouring
Sesame Oil (unrefined)177C/351FCooking
Butter150C / 302FCooking, baking, sauces, condiment


  1. Greg Davis » Guide to Extra Virgin Olive Oil | ClubEvoo Said,

      March 18, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

    […] See the article here: Greg Davis » Guide to Extra Virgin Olive Oil […]

  2. matt Said,

      March 19, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

    Very nice intro to olive oils. I found some great info and olive oils on the Olive Oil Emporium website – and they are also in Toronto. The Vossen article is an awesome read too!

  3. Greg Said,

      March 20, 2010 @ 6:18 am

    why is it so hard to find just virgin and not extra virgin olive oil?? matt even your specialty site doesn’t offer it?

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