For EVO oil we mean extra virgin olive oil. It is the most natural product that can be obtained from the pressing of olives and, given its very high level of purity, it is also called "noble oil".
In order to be defined extra virgin, the oil must comply with certain parameters specified in the European regulation EEC 2568/91 (and subsequent amendments) concerning the chemical and organoleptic characteristics of the oil as well as its extraction method and its degree of acidity. According to this regulation to be "extra virgin":
- Extra virgin olive oil must not show any defect from a sensory point of view
- The color can vary from intense green to golden yellow depending on the degree of maturity of the olives and their quality; In the green oil, the olives are picked unripe thus obtaining an oil rich in chlorophyll (which defines their color) and polyphenols, the latter responsible for the important natural antioxidant action of EVO oil;
- The smell must be "fruity", that is, an intense scent of olives and freshly cut grass must be perceived;
- The consistency must be thick, but the oil must not be excessively fluid;
- The flavor must obviously have a strong connotation of olive but, at the same time, it must also denote a bitter vein and slightly pinch in the throat. The itch in the throat suggests the presence of polyphenols.
- EVO oil must follow a well-defined production process
- It must be produced with healthy olives picked directly from the tree and never from the ground.
- The extraction process of EVO oil is carried out exclusively following a procedure of mechanical pressing of the olives without the addition of chemical additives of any kind. This mechanical crushing technique allows to preserve all the intrinsic nutritional properties of the olives. The term "cold pressing" indicates that the pressing takes place at a temperature not exceeding 27 ° C.
- EVO oil must have a degree of acidity (the percentage of oleic acid present) that does not exceed the threshold of 0.8%.
Difference between EVO oil, virgin olive oil and olive oil
To grasp the differences between EVO oil and virgin olive oil or simple olive oil, one must look at their organoleptic properties, the degree of acidity, their composition and the method of extraction or realization:
Virgin olive oil is also obtained by mechanical pressing, but it is a less valuable oil as it has various defects in smell and taste, also showing a degree of acidity that varies between 0.9% and 2% .
Olive oil, on the other hand, is a blend of oils created in the laboratory. This blend consists of 10% virgin oil and 90% refined oils, i.e. oils treated with chemical additives (e.g. benzene) in order to reduce the acidity level by lowering it to 0.1%. Olive oil is almost devoid of both nutritional and antioxidant properties.
Benefits of extra virgin olive oil
EVO oil is a panacea for our health especially if consumed raw on dishes. In fact, it is rich in both mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids capable of increasing the "good" HDL cholesterol. HDL is responsible for carrying the "bad" LDL cholesterol to the liver where it can be excreted from the body.
The FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) which is the food and medicine regulatory body in the United States, considers EVO oil as a real medicine, recommending its intake raw of 2 tablespoons / day to be able to take advantage of all the benefits offered by extra virgin olive oil in the long term.
In addition, EVO oil has important antioxidant properties that protect the cardiovascular system and is rich in vitamin E which protects cells from oxidative stress and in vitamin K.
EVO oil in the Italian cuisine
Extra virgin olive oil is the basic food of the so-called "Mediterranean diet", the regime known all over the world that allows you to have a healthy and long-lived life and which since 2010 has been recognized by UNESCO as an intangible heritage of Humanity.
In particular, in Italian cuisine the EVO oil has a dual function: it is used both as a condiment and as a basic ingredient in the preparation of hot and cold dishes, the best known of which is Genoese Pesto in which the oil is combined raw with lots of fresh basil.
EVO oil certifications
When choosing the extra virgin olive oil to buy, it is very important to look at the quality certifications placed on the bottle label:
- The PDO and PGI certifications offer the guarantee that the oil is produced with olives grown, harvested and processed in the geographical area indicated and that it has particular nutritional values;
- The organic certification offers the guarantee that the olives used are at least 95% olives deriving from organic farming.