As far as many people are concerned (as well as leading cookbooks), extra virgin olive oil gets no more detail other than “1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil”…yet in reality, olive oil varies tremendously from country to country, region to region….even year to year from the same olive grove. This is due to a variety of conditions….the age and health of the tree, the soil is very important, the general condition, the altitude, are they easily reachable (distance between the grove and where you store the olives), but especially the person who takes care of the grove…they must be good at pruning and so on.
The following is a simple flow chart showing attributes that one should look for in order of importance when selecting an olive oil.
Extra Virgin ---> Dark Glass or Tin Container ---> Harvest Date ---> Region and
Olive Cultivars ---> D.O.P ---> Pressing Method, Altitude, Soil, or Age of Trees
Virgin, Extra Light, Pure or Pomace Olive Oil ---> Clear Glass or Plastic Container ---> No
Harvest Date ---> Label Reads ”Product of Italy” with no Olive Cultivars or Region
Specified ---> No Mention of Pressing Method
There has been great and unnecessary confusion regarding the difference between virgin and extra virgin olive oils…. According to the IOOC (international olive oil council) an extra virgin olive oil must have an acidity of less than .8% and is judged to have zero organoleptic defects (by a professional tasting panel). A virgin olive oil is allowed up to 2% free acidity and/or an organoleptic defect. If at all possible, try to obtain fresh, clean extra virgin olive oil.