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Old 10-21-2006, 02:20 AM   #11
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I am not particularly familiar with the Walmart brand of olive oil because I use our own. From past experiences, I would agree with black chef that there will probably be little or no difference among commercial brands of olive oil regardless of price.

The EU definition of extra virgin olive oil is that which is produced by crushing the olives extracting the oil with moderately hot water (about 60 or so degrees C) and purifying the oil by centrifugation. No other processing whatsoever is allowed. That means no filtration is permitted. By the way there is no such designation as 'virgin' olive oil. There are only two grades - extra virgin olive oil and olive oil. Production is carried out in plants that are extremely simple as a result of few processing steps involved.

The olive oil produced in this manner will have an acidity from 0 degree up to 20 or more degrees. The commercially bottled extra virgin oil will have an acidity of 0-1 degree. There are a lot of factors that contribute to high acidity. The most common is insect infestation of the olives. Another one is partial spoilage of the olives (eg. moulding) prior to crushing. Acidity impacts the taste of the oil. At acidity of 4 degrees or more the oil begins to burn somewhat in the throat when swallowed. Below this acidity, there is no way to tell the exact acidic content by tasting but you can with chemical analysis. Nevertheless, commercial extra virgin oil carries labels of 0-1% acidity.

The taste and colour of top grade (0 to 1% acidity) olive oil vary depending on factors such as the ripeness of olives (green olives produce greenish and bitter olive oil while ripe black olives produce golden and milder tasting olive oil), the variety of olives used and even the area where the olive trees grow. Whatever the taste of the extra virgin oil may be I can think of nothing that would describe it as 'light.' In my opinion, 'lightness' can only be the result of chemical processing.

What happens to olive oil of higher acidity? The ones that fall in the 1-3% acidity are happily consumed by people who actually prefer them over the 0-1% acidity variety because of their slightly stronger taste. They are not marketed in supermarkets but are sold directly by the producers to long-term customers. The rest of the acidic olive oil are purchased by commercial bottlers who subject them to chemical treatment (neutralization with a basic agent such as caustic soda) to reduce their acidity to 0-1%. Subsequently, they bottle them (often in attractive bottles) and market them as extra virgin olive oil. It is this olive oil that reaches most supermarket as extra virgin olive oil. Sad but true. It is most likely from this 'family' of olive oils that the 'light' varieties come from because chemical processing does appear to make olive oil lighter in taste as well as in colour. In case the manufacturer wants to let you in to the secret, look for the tell-tale word 'refined' (ie. admission of chemical processing) on the label.

The solid olive waste that leaves the evoo processing plants still contains some residual olive oil that can be extracted in a second pressing. This is carried out by other plants that collect such 'waste' from the evoo plants. The second pressing will probably involve use of a chemical extracting agent. Pomace is produced in this manner. The colour of pomace is dark and cloudy and its taste heavy and unpleasant. I can hardly imagine any housewives using it for any purpose whatsoever. The only likely consumers are commercial establishments that want to reduce food costs. That is to say, 'light' olive oil cannot be the product of second pressing unless significant chemical treatment is employed after the extraction. Let it be said that the product of second pressing is supposed to be used for making soap, etc. but chemistry can achieve wonders today!

I hope this helps clear the 'light' olive oil picture somewhat.
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Old 10-21-2006, 09:53 AM   #12
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As far as I know, the 'Light' designation in the USA refers only to the taste of the oil. There is no set connection to a particular pressing or process. It is olive oil that has a light flavor.
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Old 10-21-2006, 10:02 AM   #13
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For sure the term 'light' makes no reference to the pressing method and it certainly refers to the taste. The question is how did olive oil come to be 'light' after all. Since there are no olive varieties that produce 'light' olive oil by nature, the 'lightness' we are talking about is man-made and this does not augur well with designations such as 'extra virgin,' 'natural,' etc.
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Old 10-21-2006, 10:39 AM   #14
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Light olive oil has been more finely filtered to remove particulate. This results in a lighter flavor and a higher smoke point. This page tells alot about the various grades of olive oil:

http://web.foodnetwork.com/food/web/...0,4171,00.html
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Old 10-21-2006, 11:30 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo410
if it is mixed with other oils it has to be labled as such. Blends do exist. But light olive oil is the 3rd pressing.

extra virgin, pure, light, pumace. only the extra virgin is a first pressing without heat or chemical agents.
Actually, it can be labeled as "extra virgin" without being cold pressed (according to an Italian friend anyway). At least in Italy, don't count on it being cold pressed unless it says so on the label (although it still can be). Most just say (translated from the Italian) "Superior category olive oil obtained directly from olives and solely by mechanical means." Even the 2 bottles we bought in a specialty shop in Montepulciano only say that. The same thing is printed on the 1 liter tin of oil we bought in the supermarket in Varese. When we were shopping, we looked at numerous brands and some said "first pressing", while others said "cold pressed", but we never found both claims on the same label. The label claims didn't seem to have any influence on price either. The most expensive ones didn't necessarily make either claim... maybe you are just supposed to know.
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Old 10-21-2006, 04:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boufa06
For sure the term 'light' makes no reference to the pressing method and it certainly refers to the taste. The question is how did olive oil come to be 'light' after all. Since there are no olive varieties that produce 'light' olive oil by nature, the 'lightness' we are talking about is man-made and this does not augur well with designations such as 'extra virgin,' 'natural,' etc.

As you said in your earlier post, more ripe olives produce a golden and more mild-tasting olive oil. I don't know if it's fair to assume man-made tampering. Using riper olives and more filtration are not mad scientist kinds of processing.
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Old 10-21-2006, 06:34 PM   #17
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[quote=bullseye]Light olive oil has been more finely filtered to remove particulate. This results in a lighter flavor and a higher smoke point. This page tells alot about the various grades of olive oil:

Despite what the encyclopedia says, filtration is not a standard or acceptable processing step in producing olive oil. If there are any particulates (mostly droplets of water) in olive oil, these can be easily separated by settling. Furthermore, it's scientifically incorrect to say that the removal of such particulate would alter the smoking point of olive oil. This is so because olive oil plus particulates would be a mixture. By definition, the components of any mixture have the same properties as when they are pure. Thus it doesn't follow that the smoking point of olive oil would change because there may be some particulates in it. Another way to look at the claimed reason for the 'lightness' in olive oil is the following: 'Light' olive oil has become light because of filtration to remove particulates. Then non-light olive oil eg. extra virgin must contain such particulates. Is this really the case? Has anyone seen particulates in a bottle of non-light olive oil on supermarket shelves?

To sum it all up, there are no particulates in olive oil save for entrained droplets of water (technically the aqueous phase with which the olive oil is in contact prior to separation by settling or centrifugation) which will settle at the bottom over a period of a few weeks. Any further changes in the properties of olive oil can only be accomplished through chemical processing only.
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Old 10-21-2006, 06:51 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M.
As you said in your earlier post, more ripe olives produce a golden and more mild-tasting olive oil. I don't know if it's fair to assume man-made tampering. Using riper olives and more filtration are not mad scientist kinds of processing.
Mild taste does not mean light taste. What it means is not bitter taste which is the characteristic taste of olive oil produced early in the season when at least some of the olives are unripe (green). Olive oil is by nature very 'oily' and it's an acquired taste and it takes some effort to get used to by those unfamiliar with. I do maintain that 'light' is not the first thing that comes to mind when describing olive oil taste. As for filtration, ie. a mere physical separation process, it can have no real effect on the taste of olive oil.
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Old 10-21-2006, 07:03 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boufa06
Mild taste does not mean light taste. .
IMO, in common parlance "light" and "mild" are synonyms.
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Old 10-21-2006, 08:44 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boufa06
Mild taste does not mean light taste. What it means is not bitter taste which is the characteristic taste of olive oil produced early in the season when at least some of the olives are unripe (green). Olive oil is by nature very 'oily' and it's an acquired taste and it takes some effort to get used to by those unfamiliar with. I do maintain that 'light' is not the first thing that comes to mind when describing olive oil taste. As for filtration, ie. a mere physical separation process, it can have no real effect on the taste of olive oil.
Clearly we do not agree on this point. As it is marketed in the US, light does mean mild. Part of being mild is not being bitter.
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