What is the difference between extra virgin olive oil and regular olive oil?

Created on 7th Jan 2024

The first point to note is all Pomora olive oil is extra virgin olive oil. The main difference between EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and regular olive oil lies in their quality, extraction process, and characteristics.

Here's a breakdown of the distinctions between normal olive oil and EVOO:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is the highest quality and least processed form of olive oil. It is obtained from the first cold pressing of olives, without the use of heat or chemicals. EVOO must meet specific standards for acidity, flavour, and aroma to qualify as "extra virgin." Please see more information on What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?.

Regular olive oil, also known as "pure" or "light" olive oil, undergoes additional processing, such as refining and filtering, to remove impurities and neutralize flavour defects. It is typically a blend of refined olive oil and a small percentage of virgin or extra virgin olive oil. Normal olive oil has a milder flavour compared to EVOO.

Extraction Process
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is extracted through mechanical means, such as pressing or centrifugation, without the use of heat or chemicals. This gentle extraction process helps preserve the natural flavours, aroma, and nutritional properties of the olives.

Regular olive oil, on the other hand, may undergo refining processes that involve heat and chemical solvents to extract the oil from the olive pulp. This refining process can remove natural antioxidants and flavour compounds found in virgin or extra virgin olive oil.

Flavour and Aroma
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is prized for its robust flavour profile, characterized by fruity, peppery, and sometimes bitter notes. It often exhibits complex aromas and distinct flavours that vary depending on factors such as olive variety, region, and harvesting methods.

Regular olive oil has a milder and more neutral flavour compared to EVOO. It lacks the depth and complexity of flavour found in extra virgin olive oil.

Nutritional Content
EVOO retains higher levels of natural antioxidants, vitamins, and phytonutrients compared to regular olive oil. The gentle extraction process preserves the beneficial compounds found in olives, including polyphenols and vitamin E.

Regular olive oil may have reduced levels of antioxidants and other nutrients due to the refining process.

The most robust method of telling the difference is to literally taste the difference - see the Pomora guide for how to taste olive oil.

In summary, while both extra virgin olive oil and regular olive oil are derived from olives, they differ significantly in terms of quality, flavour, aroma, and nutritional content. EVOO is preferred for its superior taste and health benefits, while regular olive oil is often used for cooking and frying due to its milder flavour and higher smoke point.