Full transparency with consumers is increasingly more important. As consumers, we are slowly becoming more conscious of the relation between a good diet and good health.
Consequently, it is important to show an interest in knowing about food quality, which includes Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), an essential in the Mediterranean diet.
However, before going into detail about the characteristics of EVOO we should ask ourselves:
Do we know what types of oil we can find in our usual places of purchase?
According to the European Union legislation (EC Regulation 1019/2002), there are four commercial categories of olive oil:
· Extra Virgin Olive Oil
· Virgin Olive Oil
· Olive oil
· Pomace Olive Oil
The highest quality olive oil is, in fact, Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
It is considered of superior category as a result of it being obtained from the best olives, harvested exclusively through mechanical processes, without altering the oil during the process, and moreover does not present any sensory defects or excess acid.
All in all, the result is a high quality olive juice.
When speaking of maximum quality, what concepts determine it. What physicochemical parameters and sensory and organoleptic characteristics should we analyze?
1) Physical-chemical parameters:
Acidity. Measures the amount of free fatty acids in the oil. The lower the acidity level, the higher the quality of the olive oil. The maximum acidity level an olive oil can reach for it to be considered an EVOO is of 0.8%
The relationship between the intensity of acidity and the intensity of flavor, is completely false.
Peroxide value. Measures the initial state of oxidation of the oil. Peroxides are formed if the olive has been damaged by heat, light or improper preservation. The lower the peroxide level, the higher the quality of the oil. The peroxide value should never be greater than 20.
UV spectrophotometry (factors K270, K232, Delta - K). This test determines if the oil is composed of any oxidizing elements (other than peroxides). A higher value will indicate a greater amount of substances that have undergone oxidation.
- K 270 must be less than or equal to 0.22
- K 232 must be less than or equal to 2.50
- Delta K must be less than or equal to 0.01
These parameters affect neither the tase nor the smell of the oil, and are only chemically measurable.
2) Organoleptic or sensory properties
To be able to classify an extra virgin, a virgin, and a laminate oil it is necessary to resort to the evaluation of selected and trained tasters.
A panel of experts carries out the olfactory and gustatory analysis to assess the different attributes:
Positive attributes: Fruity, bitter, pungent
Negative attributes: Fusty, musty, metallic, rancid ...
An extra virgin oil cannot have any defect and its fruitiness is higher than zero.