What to look out for to choose the best quality olive oil in the UK
Understanding what to look out for to choose the best quality olive oil in the UK helps us make better choices when buying such an important ingredient.
Although “the best” may seem objective, there are certain characteristics to look out for that determine an olive oil’s overall quality.
Factors such as the soil type, the climate of where the olives are grown, how the olives ripen, how and when the olives are harvested, and how the olives are processed and packaged, all play important roles in producing the highest quality olive oil. However, as a consumer, you may not necessarily be able to know this information when you’re at your local supermarket, we’ll get into a few key tell tale signs of quality olive oil soon.
As we've discussed in our previous blog posts, the idea of "olive oil quality" is closely linked to extra virgin olive oil. This concept dates back to the time of the Roman Empire when olive oil was first categorised based on where it came from. In this post, we explore the different types of olive oils available.
So, how can we judge the quality of olive oil? The general belief is that extra virgin olive oil is the best because of its exceptional culinary qualities and health benefits compared to other types of olive oil (which are processed and therefore lose some of their nutrients and flavour).
The superiority of extra virgin olive oil comes from the high concentration of polyphenols and natural antioxidants like vitamin E and Omega 3. These elements contribute to its unique spicy and slightly bitter flavour. Our ancient ancestors (such as the Greeks and Romans) believed this complex flavour profile was the sign of an oil that was beneficial to our health — modern science now backs this up!
How to choose a quality olive oil
Flavour: The taste of olive oil is the most important and complex indicator of quality. It's believed that a good olive oil achieves a perfect balance between spiciness, astringency, and bitterness.
These characteristics are typically only found in quality extra virgin olive oils.
Aroma: Aroma refers to the smell of olive oil. Higher-quality oils tend to have a stronger aroma that reminds you of fresh olives, fruits, or vegetables.
Acidity: Acidity is a measurable factor often listed on labels. It quantifies the amount of free fatty oleic acid in the olive oil and is expressed as a percentage of the total oil weight. Lower levels of free fatty acids indicate better olive oil quality.
So, a high-quality olive oil (Extra-Virgin olive oil) should have a free acidity level below 0.8%. Did you know? La Española olive oil acidity is usually between 0.4-0.5%. We have even had harvests that produce maximum acidity of 0.3% which is extremely high quality!
If you want to dive deeper into the world of olive oil, learn how to choose the right type for your needs, and stay updated on La Española's brand of oils, subscribe to our newsletter below for more olive oil-related content!