In order to recognize high quality olive oil, we must be familiar with its main characteristics. These are usually its price, acidity during production and taste.
The price of olive oil determines the quality. If the price is suspiciously low, look at the label.
The main rule for quality olive oil states that the lower the acidity, the higher the quality. Olive oil derived from ripe olives does not have a high acidity. However, if not stored properly or for too long, these levels can increase.
For olive oil to be classified as extra virgin - the highest class, it must have acidity lower than 0.8% at bottling. The acidity is normally written on the label.
Extra-virgin olive oil is derived from the initial pressing of the olives and is not further processed prior to bottling. In contrast, olive oil labeled as 100% all-natural, is a mixture of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil.
Another factor, determining the quality of the olive oil, is the taste. If it is strong, olive-flavored and highly bitter, this means that it was made from overripe olives or that the technology for extraction is not very good. Good tasting olive oil is usually soft and pleasant.
Color is also an indicator of extra virgin quality. It varies depending on the type of olives, their level of ripeness and chlorophyll and carotene contents. The color of extra virgin changes - from green to yellow and from yellow to green.
It is often falsely believed that the presence of solid particles in olive oil portends low-quality. Quite the opposite - this is a sign that it was stored at low temperatures and has been frozen. This does not change the quality of the olive oil, in fact it guarantees that it was stored far away from heat.
Professionally, the quality of a given product is determined by at least 8 taste specialists, that classify the olive oil. This type of grading method is called a taste test panel and is mandatory for extra-virgin olive oil.
Olive oil is the only food product whose minimum chemical and taste characteristics are determined by law. The law states that extra virgin olive oil must have a minimum grade of 5.5 out of a maximum 6.5.