Olive Oil is obtained from the fruit of the olive tree (Olea Europea). The composition of the olive when it is harvested can vary in many aspects: depending on the variety of the olive, the land, the climate and its farming.
In the moment of picking, the olive contains (approximately):
There are different stages in the process of extraction and production of olive oil. The first one is the reception, washing and storage. After being picked, the olives are taken to the mill, where they are cleaned in order to remove stems and dirt which they may contain. Afterwards, the paste has to be prepared. This process is called grinding and malaxation. The grinding is aimed to break the cells where the oil is contained and the malaxation (mixing) produces an oily continuous base good to be separated. The extraction of virgin olive oil is basically carried out using two methods: pressing and centrifugation.
The paste which is obtained from the olives is churned and laid on wicker baskets (“capachos”) in order to press it in hydraulic presses; otherwise, the paste is centrifuged obtaining three phases: oil, OMWs (olive oil mill waste waters) and pomace.
We can obtain the following kinds of olive oil depending on the subsequent treatments and procedures which are used:
1. Virgin Olive Oil: It is the olive oil obtained from the fruit of the olive tree using solely mechanical or other physical means, under specific conditions which do not alter the properties of the oil in any way. It has not undergone any treatment other than washing, decanting, centrifuging and filtering. It excludes oils which have been obtained by the use of solvents or re-esterification methods, and those mixed with oils from other sources (they can be fine, strong or extra). We should also highlight, within this kind of oil, extra virgin organic olive oil.
2. Refined Olive Oil: It is the olive oil obtained from virgin olive oils by refining methods. It is light-coloured and its acidity is not more than 0.2º, this is why it is very soft and it has got very few vitamins, fitosterols and aromatic substances.
3. Olive Oil or Pure Olive Oil: It is a blend of virgin olive oil and refined olive oil. Its acidity cannot be more than 1º. This is the most common olive oil bottle in the market.
4. Olive Pomace Oil: This olive oil is obtained from the remains and solid waste that result from the first cold pressing of the olives, once the first oil is separated. This blend is of such poor quality that it has to be refined until its maximum acidity does not exceed 0.3º.
Among the different types of olive oils, extra virgin olive oil and pure olive oil are the richest in vitamin E (antioxidant action) and fitosterols (substances that help reduce cholesterol levels in blood). All olive oils are noteworthy due to their high content of monounsatured fat, especially oleic acid.
Among them, organic olive oil is an outstanding product as it is kept free of chemical substances since the olive crop is planted until the olives are crushed.