Important characteristics of Olive Oil

Curiosities of the olive tree and its oil

Extra virgin olive oil  is a jewel both from a culinary point of view and beneficial to our health. It is a product with unique characteristics that we must be aware of in order to buy it with quality and not to be fooled. In addition, we must be able to get the most out of it. Therefore, here we are going to give you very useful information and open you up a little more to the exciting culture of extra virgin olive oil.

Index of the article:

  1. Characteristics of olive oil
  2. When does an olive oil bring us all its benefits?
  3. Factors that deteriorate the oil
  4. Conservation of olive oil
  5. Some frequently asked questions about the EYOV
  6. News about olive oil

Summary: The quality of extra virgin olive oil depends on many factors, factors that begin to influence from the time the olive is on the tree until the oil is finally consumed. All these factors are important to achieve a top quality extra virgin olive oil and not to be deceived when buying it. Likewise, we explain all this information to you in person in our shop in Las Rozas de Madrid and you also have here the best selection of oils in Spain: Oro Bailen,El Empiedro, Oro del Desierto, Casas Hualdo, etc.

Related articles: Where to buy a good olive oil? Benefits of hydroxytyrosol, an oil compound Mild or intense olive oil, which is better? Olive oil acidity, what do you need to know? Unfiltered or stick olive oils. Composition of olive oil: are the fats good? How much fat or oil should be in our diet? Functional foods that we should eat. 4 myths surrounding olive oils. Books about the olive tree and olive oil.l.

1. Characteristics of olive oil that we should know

Among the characteristics of olive oil that we must know, we will name the most important ones below:

a) Acidity of olive oil

Acidity indicates the amount of free fatty acids in 100 grams of oil. As the most abundant fatty acid in olive oil is fatty acid, we can say that acidity is the amount of oleic fatty acids in 100 grams of oil.

Acidity depends on the quality of the extra virgin olive oil, but it also depends on the variety from which it comes and the place where it is produced. For this reason we cannot indicate that an oil with lower acidity is better than another one due to this characteristic of olive oil.

Aceitunas en el mes de junio

Photo 1: Olives in June

b) Year of harvest:

This characteristic of olive oil is very important when it comes to assessing quality. Always an oil of the year is going to have greater flavor and greater components beneficial for the health.

Video about the olive fields in Argentina

For this reason, we must not fall into the end-of-season offers, which sell the old oil cheaper.

c) Colour of the oil

A greener or golden yellow colour of the oil is not an indication of quality, so much so that tasters use red to blue tasting glasses so that they are not influenced when assessing an extra virgin olive oil. The earliest olive oils are richer in chlorophyll, so they take greener colors, oils collected later have less chlorophyll but more polyphenols.

d) The design

Design of beautiful bottles with colors that lead us to think that the oil is of more quality, it is only a facade. The design of the bottle has nothing to do with it. This is always the case when we talk about the same type of packaging. Logically, it will always be better to pack the oil in a bag in box, tin or glass.

e) The tradition

That our parents or grandparents have bought the same brand does not mean that it is a good oil. Great brands are made of a good market and image, and these end up taking advantage of it until they sink.

Next we are going to give you other important information when buying a good extra virgin olive oil.

2. When does an olive oil bring us all its benefits?

In order to buy a good extra virgin and have it bring us all its benefits we have to pay attention and know well the characteristics of quality olive oil. Its most important characteristics are the following:

a) Absolutely irreproachable smell of olives.

If olive oil is “odourless”, it is because it has either lost its healthy and natural qualities. Therefore it is not an Extra Virgin olive oil. In this case, it is probably old, unscented olive oil. An OVOVE without vitamins, nor antioxidants and with a high peroxide index. The smell of the oil, however, is attenuated over time.

Furthermore, if the olive oil smells “rancid” (characteristic smell reminiscent of machine oil) it is because it has reached the highest possible degree of decomposition. The smell is due to the presence in it of aldehydes and ketones that volatilize. It is a deeply deteriorated oil that must be rejected immediately and must not be interfered with under any circumstances, as it is highly harmful.

botella de Cas

Photo 3: Oil from Castillo de Canena

b) Good packaging

All of the products easily absorb the odours of the environment to which they are exposed, even if they are in plastic containers, which are permeable to some gases.

Adding foreign substances to Extra Virgin Olive Oil to enhance its taste and smell is a wrong practice, because the additives alter the true smell and taste of the oil and can also oxidize it and change its most interesting properties and qualities. It is another thing to do when it is consumed.

c) Year of harvest

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is absolutely different from all other vegetable fats. A fat with extraordinary qualities and high quality. But these virtues are progressively lost over time, due to oxidation, and all the more so the less protected it is.

The result of the oxidation of an oil is peroxides and other harmful products. Oxidation is accelerated by heat, light, oxygen in the air and the possible presence of iron which acts as a catalyst. The most suitable materials for conserving oil are opaque glass and steel, but not iron containers. However, high-density plastic (PET) is used in the trade to reduce costs. This must be used with a high degree of rotation, because it is permeable to oxygen in the air and is transparent to light.

It must be properly protected from external oxidising agents such as oxygen, strong light and heat. It must be young and recent (of the year) so that the inevitable process of oxidation is poorly developed.

Bag in box of extra virgin olive oil from El Cortijuelo de San Benito, the best way to perserve the characteristics of Olive oil

Picture 1: Olive oil from Jaén in bag in box, it preserves the bes t way the quality and characteristics of Olive

3. Factors that deteriorate olive oil

All categories of edible olive oil can only be purchased packaged. In other countries in Europe and the world it can be sold in bulk. However, in Spain this has been banned since we had the rapeseed oil problem where 60 000 people died.

We can find bottled olive oil in various formats: bag in box, tin, glass and PET (plastic). Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. However, each one will protect the oil better or worse from external factors that deteriorate and oxidize the oil. Factors that oxidize it and take away the most important characteristics of extra virgin olive oil. These destructive factors would be the following:

a) Time:

Against time we can do nothing. What is clear is that the more recent the oil is, the better the quality, flavour and aroma it will have. However, if we can delay its deterioration with good conservation.

b) Light:

The oil can be protected from light, by means of the container or by storing it in a dark place, as light accelerates its oxidation.

c) Temperature:

The ideal temperature for storing olive oil is around 15. The temperature is independent of the container. However, in the large deposits of cooperatives and oil mills, due to the volume of their tanks, the oil suffers slower variations in its temperature changes.

d) Oxygen:

Oxygen is the reason why the oil oxidizes and deteriorates. It is the oxygen that initiates the oxidation of the fatty acid molecules and it is the olive oil’s antioxidants that neutralise this deterioration.

Without oxygen the oil would hardly suffer deterioration. However, during the same milling process, the oil comes into contact with the air and therefore with oxygen. Once the milling process is finished, part of the oxygen remains in the oil.

Therefore, these four variables are the ones we have to take into account when storing the olive oil in the best conditions.

4. Conservation of olive oil

In the cooperatives and oil mills, they inject nitrogen into the olive oil to remove the oxygen inside. They then leave a layer of nitrogen on top of the tank to prevent the oxygen from coming into contact with the oil. For this reason, the olive oil is very well stored in the large tanks of the oil mills

Also, in bag-in-boxes, cans and glass bottles, olive oil can be stored very well for many years. In the plastic we do not recommend more than 6 months, regardless of the variety.

The variety is not a factor that alters the olive oil, each variety has more or less stability against oxidation. The Cornicabra and Picual varieties are the most stable. Varieties that have a fatty acid composition rich in monounsaturated fats. The arbequina and empeltre varieties with a proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids. Therefore, they are much more unstable varieties. Bear in mind that a polyunsaturated fatty acid oxidizes and deteriorates much more easily.

midiendo la acidez del aceite de oliva

a) How to preserve extra virgin olive oil at home

If you want to keep your olive oil in the best conditions, you should take into account the following points:

Keep the oil in a cool place, between 10 and 15 ºC.
Keep it in a place away from light, especially if it is kept in transparent containers.
Avoid storing it in damp places and near sources of odour.
Repeating from other articles, we always recommend that the extra virgin olive oil is from the last oil campaign.

Photo 5: Analysis of the characteristics of extra virgin olive oil

5. Some frequently asked questions

Many times when customers come by the shop or call us, you ask us the following questions:

a) Why don’t all oils taste the same?

Depending on the variety, the moment of milling, the climatic and edaphological characteristics the olive takes on different aromas, therefore we have oils with different aromas, flavours.

b) Does the oil lose its properties when heated?

Yes, extra virgin olive oil, like any other product, loses properties when it is heated. What is true is that it loses less than other types of oil.

c) What has more calories than sunflower oil or olive oil?

Sunflower oil has around 880 calories per 100 g, in the case of olive oil around 900 calories per 100 g. The difference is small, but when frying, olive oil penetrates less into the product, and when raw, olive oil gives much more flavour. Therefore, olive oil is slightly more calorific.

Aceite picual de Castillo de Canena

Photo 6: Oil from Castillo de Canena

6. News about olive oil

The novelties of olive oil can be found in a large number of media. If you are looking for important news, they will appear in any newspaper in Andalusia, as it is the largest producer of oil. However, we will also give you other references, so that you can find out about more specific olive oil news, as well as state promotions that are being made and new recipes with olive oil.

Among the most interesting pages about olive oil, we have

a) Olive Oil Times

Magazine in several languages, among them English and Spanish that is specialized in news about olive oil.


Website specialized in news about olive oil and containing a large number of recipes to prepare with extra virgin olive oil.

c) Olimerca

Magazine specialized in olive oil. It is interesting to subscribe to their news channel, where they send you all the news about olive oil.


The newspaper. Characteristics of olive oil that we must know ABC


Specialized Magazine of Olive Oil, Olive oil Times

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