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What is the difference between Virgin Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

It is known to all that olive oil is one of the pillars of the Mediterranean diet, recognized by nutritionists worldwide, but where does our knowledge about this emblematic product come from? When we stand in front of a supermarket counter and see Virgin Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil, do we know how one differs from the other? We will try to clarify this below.


How is a Virgin Olive Oil different from an Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Both are pure olive juice extracted by mechanical procedures, usually using centrifugation, since the traditional pressing is practically obsolete. In no case are they subjected to refining. The juice obtained directly from the olive by the aforementioned process is called Virgin Olive Oil, which, depending on its quality, would finally be classified as “Virgin Olive Oil” or “Extra Virgin Olive Oil”.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is, among the Virgin Olive Oils, the one of highest quality. Its acidity level must not exceed 0.8, while Virgin Olive Oil has acidity levels higher than Extra Virgin, but should still be less than or equal to 2. This chemical criterion is the first that differentiate these types of olive oil.

The second differentiating criterion is purely organoleptic. Through tasting, where flavours and aromas are analyzed, an attempt is made to detect possible defects. The Extra Virgin Olive Oil has no defect, the result obtained through the tasting panel must be zero and its median of the fruity attribute must be greater than zero. On the contrary, in Virgin Olive Oil, the median of the defects appreciated in tasting (panel test) should be less than or equal to 2.5, and the median of the fruity attribute greater than zero. As such, we see how while Extra Virgin Olive Oil is perfect with no defects, Virgin Olive Oil are allowed some.


In summary:


Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Where chemical acidity levels are less than 0.8 and there are no organoleptic defects whatsoever. The oil must meet both parameters to be classified as Extra Virgin. It is undoubtedly the best oil because its nutritional properties remain intact.


Virgin Olive Oil: Where chemical acidity levels must be less than or equal to 2, and the result of the median of the defects in the tasting panel less than or equal to 2.5. The moment any of these parameters is met, it is classified as Virgin.


Aside from the technical criteria, we could ask:


Where is the marked distinction between one and the other? Or more simply: If both are processed in the same way and are obtained directly from the olive, why are some classified af Extra Virgin and others simply Virgin?

To answer that question, we have to go back to the origin:

  • As the raw material is the olive, the more care and dedication we put into the work in the field, the better results we get in the mill and consequently in the final product. Careful cultivation, protection against pests and favorable weather conditions are crucial in obtaining a healthy olive.
  • A second instrumental factor in obtaining the highest quality oil is the harvest. The olive must be harvested at exactly the right time in its maturation, directly from the tree (aceituna de vuelo) and with the techniques that minimizes possible damage to the olive to avoid oxidation and loss of quality.
  • The grinding of the olive must be done in the shortest time possible from its harvest, to prevent the fruit from being damaged and exposed to unsuitable temperatures that can lead to it becoming fusty.

Any irregularity, malpractice or oversight in any of the processes discussed will mark the difference between a truly perfect Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a Virgin Olive Oil.

The effort and dedication in the daily care of the olive groves on the farm, the strict supervision and the application of the highest quality standards in the production of the product in the mill, and finally, the use of the appropriate techniques and technology for the conservation of the oil in the cellars once produced, will give us the result of the real Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a perfect product for you to enjoy at the table that will provide you with countless health benefits.

At Las Valdesas we offer Extra Virgin Olive Oils of exceptional quality at an unbeatable price. Would you like to try? To access our online shop click here.