If you have browsed the oil aisle at the grocery store, then you have no doubt seen refined olive oil on the shelf. You probably wondered what that term means and how refined olive oil differs from extra virgin olive oil. We are here to answer your questions. In this guide, we break down what refined olive oil is and explain the various refining techniques.
What Is Refined Olive Oil?
Olive oil falls into two major categories: refined and unrefined. Refined olive oil is treated with various processes after harvesting in order to change certain characteristics without making any alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. Refined olive oil usually has no taste or smell, and it will be light in color or even colorless.
There are multiple different refining processes that may be used on olive oil. Refined olive oil may use only one or up to all five, depending on what characteristics the manufacturer is trying to change. The five refinement processes for olive oil are:
- Bleaching: The oil is heated to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, which removes pigment and lightens the color.
- Degumming (aka water refining): The oil is treated with hot water, steam or water mixed with acid and then spun in a high-speed centrifuge, removing healthful polyphenols and gummy phospholipids.
- Deodorization: Unpleasant tastes and aromas are removed by heating the oil until it reaches a temperature range of 300 degrees to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Neutralization: Color and free fatty acids are eliminated by treating the oil with caustic soda or lye.
- Winterization: Solid matter such as waxes are removed from the oil by chilling it quickly until solidified and then filtering it.
Extra Virgin vs. Refined Olive Oil
extra virgin olive oil is not treated with heat, chemicals or another method that would alter the qualities of natural olive oil. As a result, extra virgin olive oil offers better taste and consistency, as well as more health benefits.
You might also notice regular olive oil at the grocery store. Once called “pure” olive oil, regular olive oil is usually a blend of refined and extra virgin olive oils. As a result of this blend, regular olive oil cannot match the benefits of extra virgin olive oil. You might also see light olive oil, which is named for its lighter color. Light oil is a subset of refined olive oils that are lighter in color and have a higher smoke point. In conclusion, if you want to be sure that the olive oil you are getting is not refined in any way, then opt for extra virgin olive oil.
Should You Buy Refined Olive Oil?
For some other oils, refining is a positive because it improves the taste, color and consistency. However, in the case of olive oil, refining removes many of the characteristics associated with olive oil, including the delicious taste, rich color, healthy fats and good antioxidants. Refined olive oil tastes, smells and looks like many other oils, such as vegetable oil. While refined olive oil may be used as a substitute for these other oils in situations where you are looking for a neutral taste (for example, in certain baked goods), in many cases, it is more convenient and cost-effective to simply use a vegetable oil.
If you are looking for the benefits and taste of olive oil, then you are better off purchasing non-refined, extra virgin olive oil such as the oils featured in The Duo olive oil set. After all, if you are looking for olive oil instead of another cooking oil, then you presumably want the benefits of olive oil! However, not all extra virgin olive oils are created equal, and not all olive oils sold under an extra virgin label actually meet the standards for this oil. For the best results, purchase California extra virgin olive oil, which undergoes rigorous quality control and meets very strict standards that ensure the olive oil’s natural characteristics are not altered.
When it comes to olive oil, refining is not always a good thing. If you want to ensure that you are getting high-quality olive oil that has not been altered, then shop our selection of various extra virgin olive oils. Whether you are looking for a classic oil or a lemon olive oil, we have an olive oil for your needs.