Demystifying the Different Grades of Olive Oil

Cobram Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil Seperator


Raise your hand if you have ever had the baffling experience of trying to decipher all the various grades of olive oil and their various names. Well look no further, here is everything you need to know about the olive oil grading system and what the heck the differences are between Pure, Light, Refined, Virgin and Extra Virgin olive oils. These grades are all based on the California olive oil standards which are enforced by the CDFA and are the strictest olive oil standards in the world.

Natural Olive Oils

This category is called the natural section because the oils here have not undergone any chemical treatments or refining. These olive oils are made by taking olives picked off the tree, crushing them, and extracting the oil solely by mechanical means, no added chemicals or solvents.

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
    • Highest grade of olive oil, no chemical or organoleptic defects
    • Free acidity is <0.5 g/100g per California Standards
    • High in natural antioxidants and biophenols
    • All Cobram Estate oils are certified extra virgin.
  • Virgin Olive Oil (VOO)
    • Lower grade than EVOO
    • Free acidity <1 g/100g and/or slight defects organoleptically
    • Moderately high in natural antioxidants
  • Lampante Olive Oil
    • Free acidity >1 g/100g and more significant defects
    • Not fit for human consumption without further refining or processing
    • Come from unhealthy or old olives that have either fermented or gone bad

Refined Olive Oils

This category includes oils that were processed and were unfit for human consumption and therefore had to be refined to remove all defects. This refining process however also strips all good from the olive and you end up with an odourless and colourless lipid. On the grocery store shelves these oils will be labeled as Light, Pure, Refined or simply as Olive Oil.

  • Refined Olive Oil
    • Obtained from natural olive oils and then refined
    • No natural antioxidants and low in flavour
    • High in trans fats
  • Olive Oil
    • Composed of refined olive oil and ~5-15% EVOO and/or VOO
    • Low in flavour and antioxidants
    • High in trans fats

Olive-Pomace Oils

All the oils in this category have undergone treatment with solvents at the time of oil extraction to further increase the oil yields. The solvents are added at the malaxation stage and help increase the amount of oil that gets released from the olive flesh.

  • Crude Olive-Pomace Oil
    • Obtained from treating olive pomace with solvents/physical treatments
    • Not fit for human consumptions without further processing
    • For refining and technical use only
  • Refined Olive-Pomace Oil
    • Oil produced from refined crude olive-pomace oil
    • High in trans fats
    • No natural antioxidants
  • Olive-Pomace oil
    • Blend of refined olive-pomace oil and EVOO or VOO

Well there you have it! We aren’t here to tell you how to live your life, but at Cobram Estate we only use EVOO. The fact that it is solely the healthy juice of fresh healthy olives bursting with antioxidants and healthy fats is enough to make it our only choice. We hope that this helps act as a bit of a road map for deciphering the olive oil aisle!

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