Olive oil glossary

Acidity 

Acidity is a crucial parameter that defines the quality of olive oil. Acidity has nothing to do with the taste; in fact, the fatty acids have no taste. Acidity refers to the number of fatty acid oils contained. The lower the acidity, the better quality of the olive oil is. 

Antioxidants 

Antioxidants are macronutrient substances that have a protective and regulatory action on the metabolism of the body.

Bitterness 

A positive term indicating a taste sensation typical of extra virgin olive oil made from green or not fully ripe olives. Bitter EVOO is good, actually bitter is a great, positive thing! So any fresh, high-quality olive oil must be bitter, which you will perceive on the tongue.

Biodynamic agriculture

Biodynamic agriculture is alternative agriculture, very similar to organic farming. It is a cultivation method based on sustainable systems, respecting the Earth’s ecosystem and considering the soil and the life developing on it one system.

Blend (coupage) oils

A coupage of extra-virgin olive oil blends together two or more olive varieties—opposite of monovarietal.

Cold-pressed

Cold-pressed is Intended to indicate that the oil was extracted by mechanical means at temperatures below 27ºC. The use of these terms is redundant; under the international standards now in effect around the world, in order for olive oil to be labelled as "virgin", it must be extracted by mechanical means at temperatures that will not alter the oil.Basically, all EVOOs are cold pressed.

DOP - Denominazione d'Origine Protetta

Protected designation of origin which means that the oil was produced from olives grown and processed in a given area.

Early harvest olive oil

Oils made from olives that were picked before they were fully ripened.

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Oil obtained directly from olives exclusively by mechanical means and with a free acidity of no more than 0.8 g per 100 g.

Flos Olei

A guide to the world of extra virgin olive oil – is the first Guide dealing on an international scale with oil farms all over the world and extra virgin olive oils, strictly selected by a panel of expert tasters coordinated by Marco Oreggia, editor and publisher of the volume.

Frantoio

Frantoio is a highly esteemed Italian top olive variety originally from Tuscany. Frantoio EVOO is one of the most praised olive oils with an intensely fruity, beautiful aroma and medium spiciness. It is a light green in colour, with a scent and dominating taste of fresh olive fruit, almond, arugula, green pepper and aromatic herbs. Its taste is strong and full, moderately bitter, with a strong peperoncino pungency.

Fruitiness

Fruitiness is a positive term indicating the aroma of fresh fruit. Good EVOO should smell fresh and fruity. You may notice aromas of green olive fruit, fresh-cut grass, herbs, artichokes, cinnamon, tropical fruits, to name a few.

Handpicking

Operation that consists of harvesting olives manually, letting the olive branch slide between the fingers and holding the drupes in the hand.

Harvest

Operation by which olives are picked directly from the tree. It can be done manually (handpicking) or using a combination of different tools. It can also be done with mechanical means, hitting the trees with flexible sticks, making olives fall on nets placed under the canopy. Modern olive grovers use shakers, vibrators and easing machines to optimize manpower’s performance and reduce costs.

Intensity of EVOO

An aromatic intensity of EVOO can be perceived strongly (intense), medium (balanced) or light intensity (delicate).

IOOC - The International Olive Oil Council (IOOC)

The IOOC is the world's only international intergovernmental organisation that determines standards for grades of olive oil for most of the world.

Late harvest olive oil 

Oils made from olives that were picked when they were fully ripened.

Leccino

Leccino is another classic Italian variety of outstanding quality; one of the most widely grown varieties in the world because of its significant adaptability to different agro-ecological conditions. Leccino has a light intensity and delicate harmonic fruitiness. It has a beautiful dark green colour tasting of olive fruit and aromatic herbs, gently bitter and piquant. Its irresistible freshness and pervasive fruity scent strikingly.

Levantika

Also known as Soltanka ((literally, a lady from Solta) is a Croatian autochthonous variety with medium intensity and fruitiness. Levantika produces the first-class oil with a pleasant note of bitterness, medium spiciness and the aroma of freshly mown grass, apple, and green almond sensation. Oils also boast hints of artichoke and chicory, with notes of black pepper and aromatic plants, such as rosemary, sage, mint. The bitterness is well defined, and the pungency is distinctive, both of which are very well balanced.

Monovarietal (monocultivar) 

Extra virgin olive oil obtained from one olive variety.

NYIOOC | NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition

The world's largest and most prestigious olive oil contest.

Oblica

Oblica is the most important olive variety in Croatia and the oldest olive variety in Dalmatia (southern Croatia), it makes up about 60% of all olive trees in Croatia. It is moderately bitter, aromatic and well-balanced oil with fresh green olive fruitiness, apple, tomato and artichoke aromas. Its bitterness and pungency are moderate to intensive. Oils made from Oblica are very versatile olive oils.

Oil-press

Oil press is machinery used to crush olives to obtain oil.

Olea europaea

A botanical term indicating evergreen tree of the Oleaceae family that gives olive fruit to obtain olive oil.

Olive grove

An olive grove is a small group of Olea europaea trees.

Olive oil 

'Olive oil' is the lowest grade of the olive oils and contains partially refined oil. You’re probably better off using sunflower oil. Avoid anything labelled simply 'olive oil'.

Olive pomace

By-product of the extraction process of olive oil composed by skins, rest of pulp and pieces of stone.

Olive pomace oil 

Oil obtained by blending refined olive pomace oil and virgin olive oil other than lampate oil, having a free acidity content of no more than 1 g per 100 g.

Organic olive oil

Means that the olives were grown without the use of chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizers. An accredited organization needs to certify the olives as organic.

Organoleptic characteristics

Properties of olive oil (colour, bouquet and taste) perceived by the sensory organs.

Oxidation

Deteriorating process of oil; it is the most common and undesirable change in olive oil.

Pungency

A positive attribute of EVOO; that cough-inducing sting on the throat that's caused by the healthy phenolic compounds in fresh, high-quality olive oil.

Phenols

Phenols are natural compounds that are present in EVOO. Phenols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities and help protect the body and its functions.The four most abundant phenols in EVOO are oleocanthal, oleacein, ligstroside aglycon, and oleuropein aglycone. 

Pruning

Olive oil pruning is selective removal and modifying the natural way of vegetating and fruiting a plant.

Rancid

Negative term describing sensation typical for oxidized olive oils. Rancid oils have a waxy smell almost like crayons smell, or old peanuts. It also has an unpleasant taste. 

Smoke point

The temperature at which a heated food fat starts breaking down, altering its molecular structure and forming toxic substances.

Terroir

The French word for soil, land or terrain, it denotes the distinctive characteristics of geography that give the fruit its individuality: soil, geology, aspect, altitude and farming practices.

Unfiltered olive oil

Oil that uses gravity to separate the solids from the oil. Some sediment may remain.

Variety

There are hundreds of olive varieties (types, cultivars) each with its uniqueness.

Virgin Olive Oil

Oil which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 2 grams per 100 grams (2.0%).