What is EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)?

Created on 2nd Feb 2024

EVOO, or Extra Virgin Olive Oil, is the purest form, highest quality and least processed form of olive oil. It is recognised as such by all the major classification authorities for olive oil - European Union, US Department of Agriculture, Codex Alimentarius and International Olive Council.

In order to be classed as EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), the oil must meet the standards in three areas - processing standards, physico–chemical standards and organoleptic standards. The full standards to define what EVOO is are quite detailed (see the links above) but a simplified summary of the main criteria is below:

Processing Standards
- The olive oil must be extracted by exclusively mechanical means. Generally, this is either by pressing, percolation or, more commonly these days, centrifugation.
- The olives should be processed within 24 hours of being harvested to reduce oxidation.
- The extraction should take place at a temperature of 27 deg C or below, again to reduce oxidation.

Physico-Chemical Standards
- The olive oil must have a free fatty acid content (expressed as oleic acidity) of less than or equal to 0.8%. In California, the limit is stricter at 0.5% whereas the limit for virgin olive oil (the next category down) is 2.0%.
- The oil must have a peroxide value of less than or equal to 20 milliequivalents of active oxygen per kg of oil. Peroxides are an indicator of oxidation of the unsaturated free fatty acids in the oil (the first step of the oil going off) so a low value is better.
- Under UV spectrometry, the oil must have a K232 value of less than or equal to 2.50, a K268 or K270 value of less than or equal to 0.22 and a delta K value of less than or equal to 0.01. A raised K232 value occurs when the oil contains conjugated peroxides which indicates primary oxidation ie that the olives were poorly handled during processing; a raised K268 or K270 value occurs when the olive oil contains aldehydes and ketones which indicates secondary oxidation ie that the oil is not fresh; and a raised delta K value indicates that the oil may have been blended or cut with another oil.

We've posted the independent chemical analyses for Camelo's and Antonio's 2023 harvest olive oils.

Organoleptic Standards
EVOO, or extra virgin olive oil, must have excellent flavour and aroma. The olive oil should be tasted by a certified panel of expert tasters to note any defects (e.g. musty, fusty, winey-vinegary, muddy-sediment, rancid) and positive attributes (e.g. olive, apple, green, sweet, grass, nutty, tomato).
- the median number of defects noted across the tasting panel must be equal to zero.
- the median number of positive attributes - the fruitiness of the olive oil - noted across the tasting panel must be greater than or equal to one.

Only if an olive oil passes all of the tests can it be classed as extra virgin, the gold standard for olive oil.

All of Pomora's oil is extra virgin and we wouldn't use anything less but if you'd like to know more about the other categories of olive oil, we've posted about them.