Even though the acidity of olive oil is a generally well-known subject, it is an issue which is often misinterpreted both by consumers and professionals in the industry. To fully understand what we are referring to, we, at Aceites La Matilla want to help you understand first of all the origin of olive oil commencing with the olive itself.

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How is olive oil produced?

Even though the acidity of olive oil is a generally well-known subject, it is an issue which is often misinterpreted both by consumers and professionals in the industry. To fully understand what we are referring to, we, at Aceites La Matilla want to help you understand first of all the origin of olive oil commencing with the olive itself.

It is the acidity of the olive oil which measures the quantity of these free fatty acids present in the olive oil. This reading gives a general indication of the quality of virgin olive oils.

In short, the lower the level of acidity in the olive oil, the better.

What is the difference between the taste of olive oil and the acidity of olive oil?

 

Actually, fatty acids do not taste of anything. Therefore, confusing the intensity of the taste with the acidity of olive oil is a wide-spread common error. 

The palate cannot detect the acidity of olive oil, therefore any claim which associates a sweeter, more bitter, intense or salty taste to the acidity of olive oil is completely erroneous.

A large part of the blame lies with the industry which has made the link to said acidity through their labels indicating refined olive oil (which has neither taste nor acidity)when in fact, this characteristic is exclusive to extra virgin olive oil. (finish when Spanish text has been clarified)

Acidity levels of olive oil according to types

The degree of acidity in olive oil is one of the most widely-used parameters to classify the different types of virgin olive oil:

Extra virgin olive oil: acidity level should be equal to or lower than 0.8 degrees

Virgin olive oil: acidity level should be equal to or lower than 2 degrees

Why has the acidity level of olive oil been removed from labelling?

Previously, labells on olive oil packaging, but not on that of virgin olive oil, indicated the acidity of the olive oil as an indicator of quality

Due to the confusion this caused consumers, as it did not necessarily correspond to any quality criteria, legislation was changed and producers were required to add more information in addition to the acidity of the olive oil.

This indicator then began to be disregarded and producers of virgin olive oil started using the terms ’mild’ and ’intense’ to refer to this feature.

What causes the acidity levels of olive oil to increase?

We have already mentioned how the acidity level of olive oil increases when the oil is exposed to oxidising and agressive environments. Now we are going to look further into how tryglocerides go through modifications throughout the life of the olive oil.

Within the olives

Whatever the type of olive (arbequina, gordal, hojiblanca…) the tryglocerides inside are protected from the oxigen in the atmosphere by the skin which envelopes them. If the skin breaks or deteriorates, oxigen can get inside and begin to break down the tryglocerides causing the degree of acidity in the olive oil to rise.

There are several reasons why olives can become damaged: insect bites, atmospheric conditions or even from falling to the ground. Ultimately, olive oil which comes from healthy olives, free from damage or just-picked from the tree, will have a low acidity level.

On the other hand, during storage a series of important factors come into play which affect the acidity levels of olive oil. When the olives first arrive at the mill they are unloaded into hoppers. There, the olives at the bottom can be crushed by the weight of those above. In this way, oxigen further damages olives that have broken skin.

This problem is called the ’atroje’ of the olive and is further increased by the ripeness of the olive as the riper it is, the softer it is and therefore more susceptible to being squashed.

During the production process of the olive oil

Once the olives are in the mill and processed before being converted into olive oil, the pulp resulting from the grinding is exposed to the air and is at much greater risk of oxidation. Therefore, the longer the grinding process takes, the greater the risk of oxidation to the virgin olive oil. The ambient temperature plays a fundamental role, therefore, since the higher the temperature, the higher the acidity levels in the olive oil.

During the storage of extra virgin olive oil

Once the extra virgin olive oil is stored in stainless steel vats in the warehouse, it continues to be at risk of oxidation. If the vats are not airtight, or if less than completely full, air will be present.

To combat this risk some mills remove the air by adding nitrogen so the oil can be perfectly preserved and the highest quality may be obtained for the production of oils such as gourmet olive oil.


Purchase our gourmet olive oil,

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  • comprar-aceite-de-oliva-arbequina-250-online

    Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil 250ml Bottle

    23,90 IVA Incluido
  • aceite-de-oliva-arbequina-500-online

    Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil 500ml Bottle

    29,90 IVA Incluido
  • comprar-aceite-de-oliva-coupage-250-online

    Coupage Extra Virgin Olive Oil 250ml Bottle

    14,90 IVA Incluido