Different Grades of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Joined Jun 7, 2010
I asked a question online recently and was told that the first thing that makes a "good" oil is the quality of olives.

Second, the guy said that the way the oil is extracted from the olives is what differentiates one EVOO from the other. He said they're either cold pressed (meaning the olives are squashed), hot pressed (steam is "injected" to get more oil out), and lastly, he said that they have a method which involves chemical extraction. He called it, "TRI and/or PER." He also went on to say that the chemicals are used in dry cleaning??? That shocked me until I thought about how they use Sodium Laurly Sulfate (which is in Clorox detergent) in the toothpaste we use to brush our teeth, so I guess what he said isn't THAT far fetched.

So my question to you guys is this: What is the "best" EVOO out there? Would buying any ol' organic EVOO be the best way to go? Or would even organic EVOO have some form of chemical interaction?

Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.



Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
Depends a lot on the labeling standards of the country it's sold in and the standards of the maker.

The US has had crap standards for labeling EVOO. This has recently changed but I don't know if the new rules have taken effect. 

There are many good oils on the market and personal taste preferences matter. I tend to prefer Greek or Spanish oils--or even Turkish--over Italian. Italy has a shorter growing season and so their olives aren't as ripe when pressed as olives grown in Greece or Spain. However, many people like the more assertive flavors of italian oil as it's what they've "learned" EVOO is.

The best thing to do is go buy small bottles of different oil and start sampling. Quite often, what someone in a major metropolitan area likes and recommends won't be available in other parts of the country or smaller cities.
Joined Jan 5, 2007
I like Spanish EVOO - but adore Cretan or Greek island EVOOs - they are much peppery-er than some of the Tuscan EVOOs.
Joined Sep 5, 2008
Label isn't everything, and I agree with Phatch that you really don't know what an EVOO will taste like until you actually taste it.

For example, Cold Press doesn't tell you anything about the temperature at which the olives were pressed. All it means is that the olives weren't heated. But if they were "cold pressed" in a hot region, they could have actually been at a higher temp than olives that had to be slightly heated because pressed in a very cold region.
Joined Nov 6, 2004
   Hi Anthony...welcome to ChefTalk /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif   Where do you live?

   I'm certainly not an olive oil expert, but I can tell you that the person giving you that advice isn't either.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil can vary greatly in not only quality but also taste...and just because one may taste/look/feel/smell different from another doesn't necessarily indicate that it's of better quality.

  There's certainly a lot of marketing in olive oils and unfortunately most of the verbiage doesn't point to a better product.  But be careful...higher price doesn't indicate a better product either.  

  Fraud?  Well, fraud seems to have followed olive oil from about every known producing country.  The COOC (California Olive Oil Council) is the largest olive oil watchdog that I know of in the US.  But the lengths that they go through doesn't seem much different than other countries (Italy, Spain, etc)  that try to combat poor olive oil being passed as the YummO'ist EVOO in the whole world.  

    But really, all the different council seem to have their work cut of for them.  Everyone one to make an easy buck on us consumers.  Recently the COOC got the USDA to rewrite the standards for olive oil, to be adopted later this year.

   To be EVOO it must contain less than 0.8% acidity.  Virgin olive oil will contain less than 2% acidity.  Hopefully there will be less fraud in the future as guidelines are (have been) adopted around the world...but someone will always want to make easy money.  Besides, merely having less than 0.8% acidity does very little to describe the wide variety of flavors that EVOO can have.

    From my tastes and experiences I believe olive oil is too much like wine to discount olive oil from one country over another.  Conversely, just because you found an olive oil that you really liked doesn't mean that that entire country produces superior olive oil.  You can travel through a country (take Italy, or Spain, or Greece...doesn't really matter) and the flavors of the oil will differ as you travel through the country.  Further, the flavor is vastly different depending on the type of olive that's used (picual, arbequina, or a quality blend by a proven producer).  If your thinking that doesn't sound quite enough like wine to you...you will have variations in olive oil flavors from season to season.

   So the first thing I think of when someone tells me they found one olive oil superior, in taste, to another is... where did this olive oil come from (specifically), what type of olives is it, what year did they have it, How new was it when they tried it?  Now you need to answer all the same questions about the olive oil they were comparing their favorite to.

  Personally, I started having better luck (lol) finding good olive oil once I started investigating fresh harvested olive oils directly from the producers.  Different regions in Italy, Sicily, different regions in Spain, Greece, even France.  They all make great olive oil.  All of them can differ from harsh and grassy to silky smooth and buttery.  Some of the fresh harvested olive oils are (jokingly) rated by the number of coughs that are produced when you try it.  The greater number of coughs, the higher the rating the olive oil gets.

   I have had the opportunity to buy some olive oils that was from Spain.  They were from two different olives(picual, arbequina) grown on the same property from the same producer in the same year.  Both were fresh harvest olive oil and sent out as soon as they were able.  I also tried this same olive oil last year too.   They really were all unique from one another, even the same olive oil from the same producer the next season!  After trying these olive oils and other fresh harvested oils I can only come to one conclusion.  They are all too good, and too unique, to stick with only one type of olive oil year to year.  I can't wait until next years harvest...I'll be certain to try some new ones again...and again...and again>>>

The chemical and heating methods of extracting oil from olives is reserved for lower quality olive oils like Pomace oil.

Last edited:
Joined Jun 7, 2010
Thanks for all of your help, guys. It's appreciated. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

And thanks for the thought-out and detailed response, gonefish. And also for the warm welcome. Funny how the one person that asks me where I live, lives closest to me. I'm in Illinois, as well - Oak Park, to be exact.

Take care. And thanks again, everyone.
Joined Nov 6, 2004
. I'm in Illinois, as well - Oak Park, to be exact.

     Next time your north of the city check out The City Olive.  They've got a good selection of good olive oils and a knowledgeable staff.  You can try a wide variety of oils and I've never felt rushed.  By all means do head up there whenever possible, but keep in mind that you'll want to visit the store again when this years fresh harvested olive oils come in (October to December)

  take care,

Joined Jun 8, 2010
I agree with all of the above but will add my 2 cents - I use lots of olive oil (about 10 gallons per year, me, my wife, an 8 yr old and a 6 yr old), making it that much more important to acquire good quality at a reasonable cost. We have so far tried frontoio, ascolano, lucca, koroneiki, arbequina, lucino and more. We have sourced excellent quality for 18 bucks per gallon. We easily could have been spending 60 bucks per gallon if we had not sourced it as we did. This year in California the quality was down due to plenty of rain saturating to fruit prior to harvest.

I like to have a variety, if possible, I find some are better for certain applications than others. Also, GET IT FRESH! It makes all the difference. It is so enjoyable to get it while it is still cloudy and very peppery (the italian varieties). When you dunk bread into it your body is emersed and the flavor stays with you.
Joined Nov 6, 2004
Hi ekinoderminator...welcome to ChefTalk.  

   Again, I have to ask...where are you from?  I know that I've had a difficult time sourcing fresh harvested olive oil...but I have got a couple places I can get smaller quantities from.  Would you care to share any of your sources?  (either in the discussion forum or in a private message).

  I'm always looking for new oils to try and only regret not buying enough.  Oh...I can't wait until next season.

   Thanks for sharing your 2 cents

Top Bottom