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What is the refining of Lampante Virgin Olive Oils?

The characteristics of Lampante Virgin Olive Oils are so bad that they are not fit for consumption. These oils have high levels of acidity, very unpleasant flavors, and sometimes an unnatural color.

Therefore, to be able for consumption Lampante Olive Oils must be submitted to a series of chemical and physical processes that make up the refine procedure to eliminate their poor features. The problem is that in most of these processes are also removed the substances that contribute to the healthy properties of the olive oils.

Some of the processes that we are going to explain have as sole purpose to improve the appearance of the olive oil and have no relation to improve the olive oil features to make it suitable to people consumption.

Processes for refining of virgin olive oils.

1.- Debug or gumming. With the addition of water and phosphoric acid some compounds are removed such as phospholipids and gums that may cause the formation of mucilages in the packaging (see sediments in the olive oil), whose appearance is unattractive to the consumer. In the process are inevitably removed other desirable components as some proteins.

2.- Neutralization. It is the process to remove the acidity. With caustic soda the acids of the olive oil are separated, leaving the levels of acidity to practically zero. This process involves the removal of a large amount of carotenes, vitamin A components, in the virgin olive oils.

3.- Fading. It consists on the removal of the substances responsible of the color. These are mainly carotenes and chlorophyll. The olive oil is treated with activated clay to 100 ºC.

4.- Deodorization. All the compounds responsible for unpleasant tastes and odors are removed using heat. As most of these compounds are volatile, they are removed by passing the oil by a stream of air at 200-250 ° C. Secondarily also free fatty acids are removed. In this process the majority of tocopherols, sterols, and polyphenols, and their important antioxidant properties are also removed.

5.- Winterising. This process is made to remove the high melting point triglycerides, what gets that olive oil remains liquid at lower temperatures. Simply cools the oil with water, solid triglycerides are removed and then separate. Its function, as well as first step, is to improve the appearance of the product. (see grounds).

The final product after refining Lampante Virgin olive oil is refined olive oil. It can be said that from the original composition of the Virgin olive oil only remain the triglycerides, thus almost the unsaponifiable fraction have been removed. All the smells, tastes and unpleasant lampante oil colors have been removed, but also all the substances responsible for the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Virgin Olive Oils.

As a result refined olive oil is a colorless, odorless and tasteless vegetable fat, and that only distinguishes itself from the rest of the vegetable oils in its high content in oleic acid, the sole nutritional advantage that remains in the product after refining. Under these conditions, the refined olive oil  can not be commercialized, since it would not be accepted by consumers. To make it consumable it must be mixed with a virgin or extra virgin olive oil to transmit something of color, flavor and aroma of the Virgin olive oils.

Lately it is being attempted to replace the chemical processes of refining, Cleansing and Neutralization, by more aggressive physical processes which keep the oil at a higher temperature and longer period of time. This new option avoids the addition of chemical products, but exposure to higher temperatures can change the composition of fatty acids, especially linoleic acids (omega 6) and linolenic (omega 3).