What is the difference between first cold pressing or cold extraction?
It’s almost the same thing. In both cases, it is a process during which the unheated oilseeds are pressed only once, without the addition of heat and at the lowest possible temperature, in order to extract part of the oil that they contain. This type of pressing preserves the nutrients in the oil (vitamins, tocopherols, essential fatty acids, pigments, etc.) as well as their aromas. The temperature never exceeds 50 C during pressing. This heat results from the friction created by the endless screw which transports the oilseeds through the press, crushes them and tries to expel them. The extracted oil is then filtered to remove any seed residue it contains, then bottled. The term virgin is the equivalent of first cold pressing and can be used for all varieties (flavours) of oil. These days, it is increasingly rare that extra virgin olive oils are not cold pressed or extracted due to modern machinery.
OK, but you say almost, so there is a difference ?
We can't hide anything from you!
Extra virgin olive oil can be obtained from 2 different processes:
- 1) cold extraction and
- 2) the first cold pressing.
Cold extraction involves kneading the olive paste so that the oil is extracted as fine droplets that stick together for harvest. By first cold pressing, we mean the use of a hydraulic press which, crushing the fibre discs on which the olive paste is spread, creates a pressure allowing the oil to be harvested. The 2 extraction methods are cold (at 50 C, in accordance with the international standard).
Nowadays, cold extraction is preferred as a method of producing olive oil because it is a cleaner process and allows better control of manufacturing parameters.
The denomination of olive oils is based on their quality and is the subject of a standard developed by the International Olive Oil Council. Thus, extra virgin olive oil must demonstrate a free acidity level of less than 0.8% and comply with precise organoleptic quality criteria.
Why are first cold-pressed oils more expensive to buy?
Because the raw material is only pressed once without any refining operation and at the lowest possible temperature. This manufacturing process offers greater nutritional and taste quality. By cold pressing only once, there is still oil in the cake. And also, because the seeds or fruits selected are of better quality and therefore more expensive to buy.
Why “extra virgin”?
First of all, it is important to know that the term used and official is virgin extra and not extra virgin. In addition, we often see oils on which the mention "extra-virgin" is inscribed, but be aware that the use of the term extra virgin applies only to olive oil and cannot be used on other oils (you can't have extra virgin coconut oil, it can only be called virgin). The term extra virgin refers to the best-quality olive oil, the one with the lowest oleic acidity and which has no organoleptic defects.
Why doesn't olive oil always taste the same?
Our olive oils are made by small producers. These are not blends made by large consortium with the aim of balancing taste throughout the year. This is why olive oil can change its taste from year to year. In addition, the olive oil is pressed from November to the end of January, February, depending on the year. It is then stored in barrels under a controlled atmosphere. At the start of the season, the spiciness and bitterness of the oil come out more, while at the end of the season, the ripe olives give a softer oil to the taste. Like wine, depending on the land and the type of olive, the oil will taste different.