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Aceite de las Valdesas

What is the difference between "first cold extracted" olive oil and "first cold pressed" olive oil?

Every day we receive calls from friends asking us about cold pressed oils, more specifically about “first cold pressed oils”. Today, this expression is no longer entirely valid. We'll try to clarify below.

At present, oils obtained by pressing are rarely marketed, not only for reasons of profitability, but also for hygienic-sanitary and food safety reasons.

Interestingly, the idea has spread that "pressed oil" is a high-quality olive oil when in fact this process has been replaced by other more advanced and technical ones that provide higher quality and better features to the product.

Below we will try to explain the difference between cold "pressed" olive oils, and those that the general public really refers to when they ask about them, cold "extracted" olive oils.



What is cold “pressed” olive oil? How is it made?

Traditionally, olive oils were obtained using presses, which were made up of a concentric axis, around which, and inserted on that axis, batches of capachos were placed (pressing mats originally made from esparto grass and later from other synthetic fibers). On these mats, the olive paste was deposited after being crushed and ground.

Finally, this stack of mats was closed with a metal plate on which the pressure was exerted directly. By exerting this pressure, the olive paste let the liquid, a mixture of oil and vegetation water, escape.

If the oil was made without heating the olive paste, it was called "cold pressed" (the paste cannot exceed 27 ºC).

When olive pastes are heated it is because the heat favors the extraction of the oil by reducing its viscosity, but by doing so, the oil loses aroma and flavor, since the volatile compounds responsible for these evaporate.

This blend was then taken to tanks to decant naturally, in such a way that the oil remained on the surface, and the water below, and thus the supernatant oil could be collected.  This traditional method has several drawbacks when obtaining a quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil:


  • The mats must be scrupulously washed before each new pressing, since any residue from the previous pressing can transmit aromas and flavors of fermentation.


  • During decantation, the olive oil is over time in contact both with the air, that oxidizes the oil, and with the vegetation water, which will transmit unpleasant aromas of olive mill wastewater, known in Spanish as alpechín or alpechinera.


This production procedure has been discontinued for economic reasons and for reasons of quality and hygiene as mentioned above. The modernization of mills and the use of centrifuges have provided higher quality oils with better properties than those obtained through pressing.


What is “first cold-pressed" olive oil?

The olive oil obtained using the procedure described in the previous paragraph is what we call first cold-pressed oil. It is extracted with the pulp of the olive freshly cold-ground, without having been pressed previously and with the tools and implements completely clean or renewed (press and mats). The pulp of the olive is only pressed once, the remaining paste is either discarded or pressed again. In the latter case, it would no longer be called first-pressed.

Obviously, in the second or third pressing, the oil obtained is of much lower quality, because during the time that passes until the second pressing is carried out, the pulp oxidizes, the vegetation water starts fermenting and, being in contact with the oil, transmits undesirable smells and flavors (alpechín or alpechinera).


What is "cold-extracted” olive oil?

It is the widespread and already traditional method in the production of olive oil, where centrifuges are used to extract the olive oil. If the oil is extracted at a temperature below 27 ºC, it is called cold-extracted olive oil, which guarantees the highest quality from a gastronomic and organoleptic point of view, preserving all its properties and health benefits.

To obtain more oil (greater yield) from the olive, there are companies that proceed to increase the temperature to levels higher than those indicated in the previous paragraph, thus obtaining a greater amount of oil per kg of olives and a greater volume of oil to be marketed, but this oil undoubtedly loses its nutritional and organoleptic properties.

All our varieties of Extra Virgin Olive Oil are made by first cold extraction, following the manuals and quality standards, the previously ground olive pulp is passed through the centrifuge only once, the leftover olive paste is processed after extraction so we can reuse it, through composting, as a fertilizer in our olive groves.

With this, we guarantee that you will enjoy the experience of tasting the product with the highest qualities in both aromas and flavours. You can check the opinions of our customers here.