How to choose
By its characteristics and qualities, olive oils can be:
• Extra Virgin. An olive oil with superior quality, intense olive flavour and scent. It has no organoleptic flaws. Acidity equal or less than 0,8%.
• Virgin. Good quality olive oil with olive flavour and aroma. Acidity equal or less than 2%.
• Olive Oil – A mixture that contains refined olive oil and virgin olive oil. This is an olive oil classified as “lampante” which after a refining process to reduce its acidity is made available to the final consumer (after its enrichment with virgin olive oil). It has a level of acidity equal to or less than 1,0%. It is ideal for frying because of its high resistance to high temperatures.
Currently, the market still has olive oils with Protected Designation of Origin - PDO from organic farming and monovarietal or elemental olive oils which are characterized by:
• PDO. Its development occurs within a defined geographical area and is exclusively produced with the fruit of certain olive tree varieties, factors that together with the traditional know-how of the region culminates in distinctive typical features and qualitative characteristics. Portugal has six protected designations of origin:
Moura Olive Oil
Trás-os-Montes Olive Oil
Beira Interior Olive Oils (Beira Baixa and Beira Alta Olive Oil)
Norte Alentejano Olive Oil
Ribatejo Olive Oil
Alentejo Interior Olive Oil
• Organic Farming. The preservation of olive groves of organic production implies several constraints such as the maintenance of the soil fertilization, the use of adequate rotations and the compliance with very strict phytosanitary and fertilization standards. The use of chemical and synthetic products is practically prohibited.
• Monovarietal or elemental, produced exclusively from one olive variety.
Awareness while Purchasing
Knowing the process of harvesting, production and classification of olive oil, it’s important to have prudence while purchasing a product. Above all, you must take into consideration its Packaging, Expiration Date, Source and Origin, Conservation, Acidity and Colour, because:
• Package. The enemies of olive oil are air, light, humidity and heat. Exposure to light and air is a detrimental factor to the product quality so one should opt for dark glass bottles. Bottles with cork stoppers should also be avoided as they may let the air in.
• Expiration Date. Since it results from the transformation of a fresh ingredient one should opt for a more recent olive oil so that the product still gathers the best properties of the olive.
• Source and Origin. Many olive oils are produced and packed in different places and the packaging must contain this information. Therefore, choose oils with PDO nomenclature.
• Conservation. Whereas light and heat adversely affect the quality of the olive oil one should avoid purchasing it in places with high luminosity and high temperatures. Whenever possible, after opening the bottle, the olive oil should be consumed in about twenty days to preserve its aromas, characteristics and flavours.
• Acidity. The acidity has no influence on the quality of the olive oil, having no relation to its smell or taste. The acidity results from the phytosanitary condition of the olives while taste, colour and smell result from small compounds called smaller compounds.
• Colour. There is no relation between colour and quality in olive oils, that results from the maturation stage of the olives, that is, greener olive oils come from greener olives and yellowish olive oils come from ripe olives.
Lastly, we remind you that extra virgin olive oil has better quality than virgin olive oil, however, compared to seed oil it has a much higher quality and is the best option for culinary use.
Choose wisely; enjoy your shopping and tasting.