Production and Classification
Olive oil extracted only by physico-mechanical processes, without the use of any chemical agent is one of the few edible oils after extraction, without the need for any refining treatment as long as it has quality.
Its production process is quite simple, as the following chart illustrates:
However, its classification differs according to the quality of the olive oil obtained from the manufacturing process, in which factors such as the length of time between picking and processing and the way the fruit is stored are determinant.
For the final classification of the olive oil several chemical analysis are also carried out:
• Acidity (amount of free fatty acids expressed as a % of oleic acid). The acidity results, among others, of the olives imperfect conditions when handled or the bad storage of the oil. However, the percentage of acidity of an olive oil is in no way related to its taste.
• Peroxide index. Verification of the initial oxidation of the oil and its deterioration.
• Absorbency in ultraviolet, used to detect abnormal components in olive oil.
• Wax content, parameter used to verify the authenticity of an olive oil.
On the other hand, the organoleptic characteristics of an olive oil, essentially related to smell and taste, are designated by attributes when positive.
The attributes are defined by a panel of specialized tasters for this purpose. The most common attributes in an olive oil are the fruity, the bitter, the spicy, the apple or the almond flavour and are provided by the state of the olive maturation as well as its variety.
The flaws, that is, the unpleasant feelings are verified when the condition of the olive, its processing or its storage weren’t the most appropriate. The most common flaws are the Fusty flavour (the smell suggests sweaty socks ot athletic gear or mushy cured olives), the rancid and the musty-humid. Finally, depending on the quality that results from the various stages of testing, the olive oil can be delivered to the final consumer or to the industry as the chart illustrates.