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Know more: The Different Types of Olive Oil

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Often pitched as an extremely healthy oil for consumption, olive oil has captured the imagination of many diet and beauty-conscious shoppers. Jagruti Verma tells you about the different types out there

After a long process that involves grading, crushing, pressing and separating, oil is extracted from olives to be packaged and shipped for you to buy and use. But, somewhere along the line, slight modifications to the process result in different types of olive oil, and each has its own set of benefits. Broadly speaking, most of it is just about how pure and nutrition-rich the oil is. With differing vitamin E levels, acidity and aroma, the oils are divided into pure, refined, light and classic options. Often associated with the Mediterranean diet, many people believe that choosing olive oil is like choosing wine. The subtlety of the taste and texture can be felt and perceived only by an experienced tongue. So, don’t worry if you are unable to tell the difference. Here we touch upon the different types of olive oil available and what they are used for.

Extra virgin olive oil
Considered to be the purest form of olive oil, extra virgin variety is the one that’s least chemically treated; manual processes are used to extract the oil from olives. The oil retains a fruity aroma and is made from the best quality olives. Special care is taken in terms of solvents used and maintaining the right temperature, so that the quality of the oil is not hampered. This type is best used as a drizzle over salads.

Virgin olive oil
Slightly lower in quality than extra virgin olive oil, this variety is also unrefined. It differs from extra virgin olive oil in terms of the quantity of oleic acid present. And, while you can use it for low heat cooking, it shouldn’t be your choice for deep frying.

Regular olive oil
Comparatively lighter in taste and texture, regular olive oil has a lower smoke point than other varieties, which makes it an excellent choice for low temperature cooking. It is usually a mix of oils extracted from olives using cold-pressed as well as other mechanical extraction techniques. Its flavour is slightly neutral when compared with virgin olive oil.

Refined olive oil
If the olives are not of very good quality, the extracted oil is refined using chemicals and is lightly processed when compared with other seed oils. However, this technique causes the oil to lose almost all its essence, flavour and aroma. Needless to say, this type is of inferior quality. It can be used for Indian style cooking as an alternative to other refined oils.

Olive-pomace oil
This is the lowest grade of the olive-based oils. After the initial extraction of oil, a pulpy residue is left and the oil extracted from this residue is called olive-pomace oil, which is then refined. But, since it has a neutral taste and a higher smoke point, it is used more for deep-frying.

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