Between high quality extra virgin olive oils, there are many different products which may vary depending on taste, variety, type, acidity and peroxide presence.
Extra virgin olive oil types: Coupage and Monovarietal
The first difference between extra virgin olive oils is related to the type of oil. Coupage is a kind of oil elaborated with the juice of different kind of olives. This mixing of olives is done in order to obtain a special liquid with a very special taste. This olive oil is very exclusive and attractive for consumers and is considered pure traditional craftwork.
The monovarietal oil is a juice carefully obtained from the same kind of olive. It is also very exclusive, for the discerning palate.
Extra virgin olive oil types – Attributes: Color
The color of olive oil can vary between gold and green. These colors are determined by the quantity of chlorophyll and carotene in oil. These color variations do not compromise the quality of olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil types – Attributes: Taste
The tastes of extra virgin olive oils are the following ones:
. Fruity: This taste and aroma remind us of healthy and fresh olives. The oils with these tastes are made with very green olives.
. Grass: Oils with this taste remind us of olive leaves and grass.
. Apple: Oils with this taste remind us of apples.
. Almonds: It is commonly associated with sweet oils. Oils with this taste and aroma remind us of dried fruits. Note that this taste can be confusing. Rancid oils may taste similarly.
. Bitter: Typical taste of oils extracted from very green olives.
. Hot: Spicy taste. These oils are produced from olives picked at the beginning of the season.
. Astringent: Sensation of some oils in our mouths. Note that it can be confusing. Mold may taste similarly.
. Sweet: Very nice taste. It does not leave any hot, bitter taste and any astringent sensation.
It is also possible to find some varieties of olives that would give different tastes and varieties in olives oils:
Extra virgin olive oil types – Varieties of fruits
. Arbequina: This extra virgin olive oil variety comes from a very special olive fruit called Arbequina. This small fruit is very resistant to climate changes and is very well known by its high quality. Its juices are spicy and slightly greasy.
. Alfafarenca: This olive variety is of great resistance and of late maturity. Its oil is of medium quality, but very well appreciated. Its bitter and spicy taste and its slightly golden colour are their symbols of identity.
. Blanqueta: The nearly white color is very common in this variety of fruit. They are picked manually and during the juice extraction, no chemical product is used. The taste of oil is fruity and bitter, very aromatic and with a high percentage of linoleic acid.
. Frantoio: The oil produced by this variety of fruit is highly appreciated because of its fruity taste and its great conservation characteristics. It is sweet, creamy and soft, very aromatic and very nice. Very similar to arbequina.
. Genovesa: This variety of olive is highly appreciated by its productivity. The fruit is quite big, thick and produces stable oil of high quality.
. Hojiblanca: Its oil is highly recommended because of its composition. Very high percentage of fatty acids. Their tastes are very different; but, in general, fruity, slightly bitter and spicy.
. Picual: The olive oil of this fruit is of medium quality, with an excellent content in oleic acid and with a bitter and wood taste. Very nice.
. Picudo: The great emblematic olive of Córdoba (Spain). This variety produces the oil with Guarantee of Origin and Quality of Baena and Priego de Córdoba. This excellent extra virgin olive oil has an unbeatable taste, very soft, not hard. Its taste is quite fruity and reminds us of very exotic fruits, apples and almonds. This oil is very steady, but fragile to oxidation.
. Manzanilla: An oil very difficult to find. Very stable liquid, with shape and fruity and bitter taste.
. Lechín: A variety that produces an oil with vegetable and almond taste. Medium bitter taste. Very difficult to find as monovarietal.
. Verdial: Fruity oil with a sweet taste. Very nice, with no bitter taste. Very difficult to find as monovarietal. It is necessary to protect this oil from light and heat.
. Empeltre: Very soft and delicate oil with an almond taste. No bitter and hot taste. Very nice in the mouth.
. Cornicabra: Fruity and very aromatic oils. Slightly bitter and hot. Very stable.
There are other oil varieties such as: Castellana or Verdeja, Farga, Serrana de Espadán, Morruda, Grosal, Changlot Real, Rojal, Canetera, Nana, Cuquillo, Sollana, Callosina, Llumeta, Millarenca, Borriolenca, Redondilla or Redondal, Macho or Machona, Negral, Royal or Royuelo, Arroniz, Cornezuelo, Jabata, Gordalilla de Archidona, Romerilla, Chorúa, Tempranilla, Ocal, Campanil, Chorruo, Lucio, Loaime, Gordal de Granada, Negrillo de Iznalloz, Escarabajuelo, Nevadillo Negro, Carrasqueño, Picodo, Lucio or Moreño, Nevadillo de Alhama de Granada, Royal de Jaén, Manzanillo de Jaén and Morrut.
Extra virgin olive oil types – Acidity, peroxides and polyphenols
Acidity and peroxide percentage can help us to know if the olive oil in question is of high quality or if its production conditions and fruit quality have been adequate. The lower grade of acidity and the lower percentage of peroxides in composition are the best for our olive oil.
Acidity comes from a chemical breakdown of triglycerides that is produced by a process known as hydrolysis or lipolysis. This breakdown leaves free fatty acids that determine acidity level. When the oil is extracted carelessly from poor quality olives and the meteorology has not been good, acidity levels will be higher because these anomalies favored the breakdown process. Thus, the percentage of free fatty acids will be very high, the acidity too and the quality of olive, poor.
High percentage of peroxides in the composition of extra virgin olive oil indicates that a process of oxidation took place. The oxidation occurs when oil gets in contact with air. It may possible that oxidation occurs when oil gets in contact with constant natural or artificial lighting as well. The consequences are very harmful. The peroxides destroy the aroma and taste of the oil as well as its beneficial properties for health.
Polyphenols are natural antioxidants that contribute to the bitter taste in oils, astringency and resistance to oxidation. These polyphenols are beneficial to our body. They reduce cholesterol, regulate blood pressure and decrease coronary risks.
The quantity of polyphenols in oil is determined by several facts: oil variety, olive time picking, altitude, irrigation, extraction methods and storage.