There are 4 Main Grades of Olive Oil, these are: Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EV or EVOO), Virgin Olive Oil, Refined Olive Oils and Olive Pomace.
Extra Virgin Oil is the natural, unprocessed oil extracted from the first pressing of the olives. The level of free fatty acids (FFA) thereof when packed may not, by definition, exceed 0.8%.
We blend oils from a number of Western Cape estates, and also from Spain. We offer the oil in a range of sizes from 250 ml, to 1000 lt.
“Virgin” Olive oil is an oil that is still palatable, but of poor quality. This might happen after olives have been left in the sun after harvesting for a full, hot day. The FFA here will exceed 0.8%. The oil would still have the virgin claim from the pressing, but it would lose the “Extra” denomination.
After refining, the oil is neutral, and some virgin oil (maybe 3%) is added back to augment the flavour. Expect to pay nearly an Extra Virgin price for “Pure” olive oil. In spite of the minimal flavour and the high price, demand is strong.
It has the favourable fat profile of olive oil but is less prone to rancidity on the shelf. Its stability is favoured by manufacturers who wish to add the oil to foreign material like cured olives or infusions of herbs.
Refined Olive oils are oils with a FFA exceeding 0.8% and are generally refined into “Pure” Olive Oil, or “Light” Olive Oil. When the FFA exceeds 1.5% it may not be called “Virgin” oil, and is termed “Lampante”. It is, of course, possible to augment one’s volume of extra virgin olive oil by blending it with oil of a non-compliant Virgin oil, and still get a resultant blend of less than the threshold
Pomace Olive Oils (or Sansa / Aruja) come from the olive pulp. There is 4% of olive oil left in the olive pulp which olive presses are unable to get to. A process of “hexane extraction” is able to chemically extract most of this residue.
To restore the oil to food-grade quality, it has to be refined and there after some extra virgin olive oil (about 3%) is added to give it flavour. In the past, Pomace Oil has been cheaper than the abovementioned oils and is favoured by soap makers. Due to an international shortage, Pomace Olive Oil is now close in price to Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Some pizza establishments dip some wood in pomace before burning the wood in the pizza oven as it imparts a pleasing aroma to the room.