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Myths, legends and false beliefs in the extra virgin olive oil world

Folk tales to be discredited

Olive oil has been around for millennia, it’s present on most tables around the planet, yet countless false believes continue to flourish, as well as legends, referring to it.
We deem it necessary to clarify some misleading conceptions portrayed by these tales, at least the most popularly known. We will not be exhaustive, of course, considering the incredible amount of believes bound to olive oil. Indeed, we encourage our readers to single out whatever new element they may come to know; we shall be glad to publish them on this website.

List of wrong believes

  • There exist two types of olives, green and black. False. Olives, unlike grapes, peppers, onions, are always only green. While ripening olives change color and darken to the point of becoming completely black. (This is a phenomenon called ripening process).
  • First pressing: to get olive oil, olives must be pressed, period!
    There is only one pressing, and talking of “first” pressing can be very misleading: one may think that it deals with a better quality oil according to the number of pressings..
  • Mechanical pressing: To obtain extra virgin olive oil the pressing or “extraction” must necessarily be mechanical, period!
    No other systems are considered. Using this term inappropriately may induce buyers to think that we are in front of a special quality product , which is simply false.
  • Seed oil is best for frying purposes: wrong!, When frying, one of the most relevant reference points concerning the best oil to be used, is what is called the “smoke point” which regards the temperature reached when the oil starts producing smoke; it is then that the oil starts producing substances which are particularly dangerous to health.
    Extra virgin olive oil has a much higher “smoke point” when compared to seed olive oils, it becomes therefore more unlikely that when frying with extra virgin olive oil the critical temperature may be reached.
  • Olives are picked only after they fell on the nets on the ground: this is one of the methods which can be used for collection, definitely not for the production of good quality extra virgin olive oil! This method is utilized when olives are totally ripe and fall; the oil which comes out of the pressing it can be used for burning purposes, like in lamps, not therefore edible. Olives are most often picked from the tree when they start ripening and the methods being used are several ones. (from hand picking to the use of mechanical tools).
  • When oil is bitter and spicy it is not of good quality: absolutely wrong!! The contrary holds true. The more bitter and spicy oil is, the greatest its benefit for health. Bitter and spicy is but a sensation generated by poyiphenolic substances which are most beneficial for health purposes. The higher the quality of such substances, the stronger is the feeling of bitterness and spice
  • When oil is not bitter and spicy it is of poor quality: wrong. Even though when bitter and spicy , due to what has been said above, it is synonymous of particularly healthy type of oil, absence of bitterness and spice does not necessarily mean poor quality.
    Perhaps we could say that a type of oil very little bitter and spicy may have a lesser beneficial health effect, but we must also acknowledge that there exist in the market types of excellent extra virgin olive oil which have a very low degree of bitterness and spice.
  • Extra virgin olive oil is synonymous of good quality : unfortunately not! “unfortunately”, for it would be just right to define a good quality olive oil by labeling it as “extra virgin”. Regulations at present are such that a wide number of types of olive oil can fall under this definition, even though, many of them, in reality, are of poor quality …
  • There is but one type of olives: there are hundreds of varieties ! Italy is the country with the highest number of different types of olives (biodiversity). We call these different types by the name of cultivar (vineyards in case of grapes). Oil may be obtain from a blend of different cultivars or from a single cultivar (Monocultivar)
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