We have a farm in the foothills of California and produce an award winning extra virgin olive oil. People often ask us what is extra virgin and why is it better. Here are the facts.
Extra virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives using only the press. There is no extreme heat or the use of solvents. In addition the olives are pressed shortly after they are harvested. Our olives are hand picked. It takes all day to pick the crop. They are taken to the press that night and pressed the next morning.
Extra virgin olive oil has the lowest acidity and is the most flavorful. It is also the most expensive.
Virgin olive oil is the next grade down, It does not qualify to be extra virgin usually because the acidity is too high or it does not pass the flavor test.
A product labeled 100% pure olive oil is the oil extracted from further pressing using heat and solvents. This is a lower quality oil and must be refined to remove impurities.
This description may not apply to olive oils imported into the United States. An import labeled extra virgin mosts likely is not extra virgin. In fact it may not even be pure olive oil. It may be olive oil diluted with cheaper grades of oil in order to make a less expensive product. This deception has been extensively reported in the American press.