Thursday, 4 October 2007

An introduction to Spanish olive oil

Any introduction to this mythological and versatile product central to the Mediterranian life, would be incomplete without exploring the main facts that are guaranteing the survival of this exquisite liquid. This article goes over the current different olive oil categories and health benefits associated to this product.


Grown from time immemorial in the Mediterranean area, the mythical olive tree still produces the flavoursome, exquisite and healthy oil that constitutes one of the basic ingredients of Spanish cuisine. Nevertheless, not all olives oils are the same. There are two main factors that help us define an olive oil and differentiate it from others: its quality and the specific olive variety chosen. The first has to do with its acidity level and its range of aromas, flavours and taste. The second relates to the type (one or several) of olives selected to produce it. Depending on these variables, two olive oils can be a world apart.


By law, olive oils are categorised as follows:

1. Extra virgin olive oil (“aceite de oliva extra virgen”): Up to 1% of acidity (quantity of acid found in the oil that indicates, for instance, signs of chemical alteration) and a minimum mark of 6.5 out of 10 awarded by a panel of tasting experts. This is natural “olive juice” in its purest state, with no defects whatsoever. It boasts an interesting and captivating range of aromas and flavours. It is obtained from the mechanical pressing of olives collected in their prime.

2. Virgin olive oil (“aceite de oliva virgen”): Up to 2% of acidity and a minimum mark of 5.5. In other words, a good virgin olive oil that did not make it to the top category.

3. Olive oil (“aceite de oliva”): this olive oil has NOT been obtained through mechanical processes, but rather from the refining of –originally defective- olive oils to which a small quantity of virgin olive oil has been added in order to improve its flavour and reduce its acidity.

Besides de quality of the fruit when it is still in the tree and the meteorological conditions, there are other factors that contribute to ensure defect free oil such as:

  • The right condition and ripeness of the olives when being recollected
  • The less time that elapses from the recollection moment to the production process the better
  • A proper and careful production process using only mechanical procedures at a right temperature
  • A correct pouring off of the liquid and its conservation.


Olive oil has many nutritional properties, as health authorities and nutritionists all over the world underline regularly. Amongst other benefits, olive oil:

  • Reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems.
  • Has anti-ageing properties due to the high level of vitamin E it contains.
  • Can help to prevent breast and intestinal cancer.
  • Reduces the “bad” cholesterol and increases the “good” one.
  • Reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.
  • Improves bone structure.
  • Helps the digestive system to function properly.
For a fine selection of Spanish extra virgin olive oils, please visit our Spanish food online store.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you, very useful information!!

06 October 2007 12:08  

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