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We exceed all standards set by the International Olive Council (IOC), the international governing body for most of the olive oil industry, which decrees that extra virgin olive oil must have no more than 0.8% acidity and a peroxide value of no more than 20 meq O2/kg. We also surpass the stricter standards of the California Olive Oil Council (COOC), which designates as extra virgin only olive oils with no more than 0.5% acidity and a peroxide value of no more than 15 meq O2/kg.
How it is made.
Our extra virgin olive oil is a natural fruit juice made by cold extracting (crushing/pressing) olive fruit (yes, an olive is a fruit), without adding any chemicals or preservatives. The only preservatives in our La Fiola extra virgin olive oil are the naturally occurring polyphenols (antioxidants), or phenolic(phenol) compounds, that are found in our young olive fruit or created naturally.
What makes an olive oil Extra Virgin vs. another type of olive grade?
There is a big misconception by most consumers on what makes an olive oil extra virgin vs. another type of olive grade. Most consumers associate extra virgin olive oil with olives that have been pressed once and having them pressed with no heat, thus the common phrase “first press and cold press” on most bottles of olive oils they purchase.
Although that assumption for extra virgin olive oils is true, it is a little misleading. What most consumers fail to realize is that the process of “first pressing and cold pressing” is strictly a process. Most olive oils are “first pressed and cold pressed”. It does not guarantee that the olive oil comes out “Extra Virgin”, most of it comes out as “Virgin or just Olive oil”. The phrase “first press and cold press” is more of a marketing technique used, because they know that by using that phrase you will associate the oil as extra virgin, although it may not be.
The truth of the matter is that the proper grading for olive oils all has to do with acidity. How often do you see or hear about acidity levels in olive oils? I would bet you not a whole lot.
So let’s see the different grades of olive oil.
- Extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged (how is olive oil judged? Look below) to have a superior taste. There can be no refined oil in extra-virgin olive oil or any taste defects.
- The word “Virgin” means the oil was produced by the use of physical means and no chemical treatment
- La Fiola has an acidity level of 0.2%, four times lower than what is being regulated Virgin olive oil has an acidity less than 2%, and judged to have a good taste. There can be no refined oil in virgin olive oil.
- Olive oil is a blend of virgin oil and refined virgin oil, containing at most 1% acidity. It commonly lacks a strong flavor.
- Refined means that the oil has been chemically treated to neutralize strong tastes (characterized as defects) and neutralize (lower) the high acid content (free fatty acids) at a consumable level. Refined oil is a lower quality than virgin oil.
- Olive-pomace oil is a blend of refined pomace olive oil and possibly some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but it may not be called olive oil. Olive-pomace oil is rarely found in a grocery store; it is often used for certain kinds of cooking in restaurants.
- Pomace olive oil means oil extracted from the pomace using chemical solvents and by heat.
- Lampante oil is olive oil not used for consumption; lampante comes from olive oil's ancient use as fuel in oil-burning lamps. Lampante oil is mostly used in the industrial market.
**** To wrap things up, olive oil is graded by how it was produced, by its chemistry, and by its flavor.
An olive oil’s flavor is judged by a panel of professional tasters in a blind taste test. This is also called its organoleptic quality. This is critical for olive oil because it is very easy to neutralize the acidity level of an olive oil by chemical means, in order to make it fall under a higher grade of oil, thus a taste test is done to assure that it is clear of any defects. Any chemical used to neutralize an oils acidity will should show up in a professional taste test.
So what makes it Extra Virgin?
Positive Attributes of olive oil
Almond: nutty(fresh not oxidized)
Artichoke: Green Flavor
Banana: ripe and unripe banana fruit
Bitterness: considered a positive attribute because it is indicative of fresh olive fruit
Buttery: creamy, smooth sensation on palate
Fresh: good aroma, fruity, not oxidized
Fruity: refers to the aroma of fresh olive fruit
Grass: the aroma of fresh-cut grass
Green/greenly: aroma/flavor of unripe olives
Harmonious: balance among the oils characteristics with none overpowering the other
Peppery/pungent: stinging sensation in the throat which can force a cough
Sweet: characteristic of mild oils
Negative Attributes of olive oil
Brine: salty taste indicating that the oil was made from brined olives
Burnt/Heated: caused by processing at too high a temperature
Cucumber: off flavor from prolonged storage, particularly in tin
Flat/Bland: oils which have no positive or negative aroma or flavor characteristic oil olive oil; may indicate presence of refined olive oil
Fusty: anaerobic fermentation that occurs when olives are stored in piles too long before milling
Greasy/Oily: Greasy or oily mouth feel
Musty: moldy, humid flavor created by wet olives that have been stored too long before pressing
Rancid: the flavor of oxidation that occurs as the oil ages, often described as “stale nuts”
Unbalanced: oils with overwhelming flavors of bitterness and pungency
Winey/Vinegary: Sour/vinegary flavor or aroma caused by aerobic fermentation of olives during processing
What do the High Levels of Healthy Polyphenols in our La Fiola EVOO mean?
La Fiola extra virgin olive oil is a SUPERFOOD! Olive oil is the only fruit oil that contains detectable amounts of healthy polyphenols (antioxidants, which are also called phenolic compounds). It is not a vegetable oil, as even many professionals believe, but a fruit juice.
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) typically has higher quantities of polyphenols than virgin olive oil or olive oil grades. Average grades of olive oil may contain 50 mg/kg (ppm) of polyphenols, or even less. In an average year, our La Fiola EVOO contains over 400 mg/kg. Some years, our EVOO has reached over 770 mg/kg of polyphenols—over 15 times more antioxidants than your average grade olive oil!
There is a big difference between ordinary olive oil and healthy, flavorful, high phenolic extra virgin olive oil! Since flavor and health benefits are the main reasons consumers buy extra virgin olive oil, we might wonder why many companies and most producers aren’t making healthy high phenolic olive oils. The reason: most producers have been trained to mass produce less healthy olive oil, focusing on quantity rather than quality, while many consumers are looking for a bargain.
This makes it hard for producers focused on quality to compete: it costs more to make better, healthier EVOO, so the price must be higher to cover costs.
Even so, at Laconiko we focus on quality and health benefits.
The result: Laconiko was ranked among the top 10 in the world for oleocanthal content in a prestigious international health competition.
Benefits of Our High Phenolic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Polyphenols are some of the key components in Laconiko extra virgin olive oils that contribute to its impressive health benefits. The high antioxidant (phenolic) content in Laconiko EVOO strengthens our immune system, diminishes the risk of numerous diseases, including heart disease, protects the oil from premature spoiling, and adds a fresh taste to enliven delicious dishes. Scientific evidence suggests that high phenolic extra virgin olive oil may help
- Lower total cholesterol
- Slow the aging process
- Improve the health of arteries
- Keep blood sugar under control
- Protect blood lipids from oxidative damage
- Reduce the symptoms of and/or prevent type 2 diabetes
- Lower blood pressure and maintain normal blood pressure
- Protect brain proteins involved in memory, learning, and thinking
- Reduce inflammation, like ibuprofen, thanks to its oleocanthal content
Some consider oleocanthal to be olive oils most important phenolic compound. Found only in virgin olive oil (with the most in extra virgin), oleocanthal mimics the effects of ibuprofen, reducing inflammation. This has a noteworthy effect on long-term inflammatory illnesses and certain cancers. Recent research also suggests that oleocanthal may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
So why are more people not talking about polyphenols and looking for them in an olive oil?
Our extra virgin olive oil is ideal for health-conscious individuals!
Cooking with Olive Oil
Mediterranean cuisine is regarded as the healthiest diet by many nutritionists, who credit it with helping sustain a healthier immune system and increasing longevity, thanks to the monounsaturated fats in extra virgin olive oil. The monounsaturated fatty acids resist oxidation and lower bad cholesterol (LDL) without affecting good cholesterol (HDL). However, nutritionists often overlook the critically important polyphenols (antioxidants) in extra virgin olive oil! This is where Laconiko stands out, with its EVOOs’ high polyphenol levels.
You have probably heard prominent chefs tell you to use a lower quality/cheaper oil for your cooking, haven’t you? The truth is that the higher antioxidant (higher phenolic) extra virgin olive oils are better suited to the higher temperatures required for cooking, because the antioxidants prevent the olive oil from breaking down quickly. The reason some tell you to use a lower quality olive oil, which they do not always understand or explain clearly, is that those oils are much cheaper. It may seem more cost effective to use those oils for frying, for instance, but the high antioxidant extra virgin olive oils are really the best for cooking. They tend to be more expensive because it costs more for the producer to make them, but many of their health benefits and pleasant flavors remain even after cooking, or are transferred to the food you have cooked, so they are worth the money.
After proper straining, they can also be safely re-used for frying.
Shelf Stability, and How to Select Your Olive Oil
Our Laconiko extra virgin olive oils have more than a two-year shelf life, thanks to the high level of polyphenols (antioxidants) in our olive oil and our temperature-controlled storage conditions. In our warehouse, we keep our olive oil at a consistent temperature of 58 degrees Fahrenheit all year long.
Did you know the polyphenol content in a bottle of olive oil is the determining factor in how long a bottle of olive oil will last, NOT the EXPIRATION DATE on the bottle of olive oil? A two-year expiration date is required for every bottle of olive oil. However, the truth is that most olive oils do not have a two-year shelf life, for one or more of the following reasons, among others: lower quality fruit, an olive variety with lower antioxidant levels, clear bottles or other improper storage, and even over-irrigated trees.
It is important to look for the harvest date (if you can find it) on a bottle of olive oil, rather than the expiration date, because this will tell you how fresh the olive oil is. Also check the olive variety, and learn about its strengths and weaknesses, as you would consider a specific grape variety for wine. Finally, always choose extra virgin olive oil that is in a dark bottle, especially if it is on a supermarket shelf that is exposed to light.
Fraud in olive oil
When we first started importing our olive oil, we were shocked at the widespread fraud happening in the olive oil industry. It is no longer a secret that olive oil is the most adulterated food product, it is something that many of the popular brands want to keep a secret and retailers and governments are turning a blind eye to! Some estimate that less than 10% of the world’s production is of extra virgin quality, while some may believe that percentage is inflated or underinflated. The even bigger problem is poor quality olive oil intentionally being mislabeled as extra virgin olive oil.
According to the reputable UC Davis, more than two-thirds of common brands of extra virgin olive oil in grocery stores are not what they claim to be. They have been found to be spoiled, low quality grade or simply cut down with other oils, such us vegetable, sunflower, canola and hazelnut. The reality is that if you are buying olive oil, there is a high probability you are not buying what is on the label! If tests were being done, which is not common practice, most of the testing techniques used would only identify if the oil is spoiled, adulterated or mislabeled as the extra virgin olive oil grade, when it should be virgin grade or lower grade. There are no systematic governing/regulated body’s testing the quality and health of the olive oils in the retail market.
There is a big difference between olive oil and healthy olive oil, they are not one and the same! And aren’t the health benefits the main reason everyone buys extra virgin olive oil? So why aren’t many companies and most producers making healthy (high polyphenol) olive oils?
This is complex question that we will try to answer as simply as we can, most producers making olive oil have been trained to mass produce which are typically not your healthy olive oils and the once that do know how to make it healthy, does not make it profitable to do so! Do not get us wrong, you are probably buying real unadulterated olive oil if you are buying directly from a producer but that does not mean they are making healthy olive oil! This happens because the big industry(the big companies and consumers) buying their olive oils do not care to look for a healthy quality oil, since the consumer has been trained to buy cheap with the title “Extra virgin olive oil”.
The industry’s accustomed lower priced oils on the shelfs, does not leave enough room for a producer making a healthier olive oil to be competitive. Because making a healthy olive oil is more costly for a producer, even if they know how to.
In Conclusion, there are many types and grades of olive oil; they range from good olive oils to bad olive oil, from extremely healthy to not very healthy. Even some good olive oils do not mean they are healthy or to the standards many are seeking now. There are producers who stand behind their quality and health benefits with actual proof, not just claims with fancy words, showcasing their olive oils’ yearly chemical analysis on their websites. Search for those oils, because the biggest fraud is committed against the consumers, robbing them of the true health benefits of real healthy extra virgin olive oil, and the harm caused the producers focused on making authentic, healthy extra virgin olive oils– what a REAL Extra Virgin olive oil should be! Now that we now know the truth we can start living a healthier Lifestyle NOW!