Olive oil is a staple in many households, used for cooking, homemade beauty products, and more. However, some people are confused about which type of olive oil to buy. There is “pure olive oil” but the more expensive “extra virgin olive oil” is tempting too! If a recipe calls for extra virgin olive oil, can pure olive oil be used instead? Are they interchangeable? Which is better? Read on to learn the difference between the two.
Extra virgin olive oil, often simply called “EVOO,” is the highest quality and highest priced type of olive oil. It is collected by cold pressing olives and pits, extracting the oil by means of pressure. This is done without the presence of heat and solvents that may degrade its quality.
Because extra virgin olive oil is is unrefined, it retains the natural antioxidants, good fats, vitamins, and minerals in the olives. It is usually golden-green and has a distinct olive flavor. It contains less than 1% oleic acid.
Since it burns at a low temperature and is expensive, extra virgin olive oil is normally not used in cooking or in processes that require large amounts of oil like frying. It is typically reserved for salad dressings, dipping sauces, and baked recipes that require little oil.
Pure olive oil, often simply called “olive oil” or “regular olive oil,” is a combination of processed olive oil and virgin olive oil. The ratio may differ depending on the brand, but it generally contains about 95% refined olive oil and 5% virgin olive oil. It is considered a lower quality olive oil with an oleic acid level of 3% to 4%.
It has a light gold color and a faint olive flavor. Because heat and chemicals were used to extract refined oils, pure olive oil contains fewer antioxidants but still has good fats. It can be used as an all-purpose oil and is great for cooking.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil vs Pure Olive Oil
What, then, is the difference between extra virgin olive oil and pure olive oil?
Extra virgin oil (“EVOO”) is a high quality oil extracted by cold pressing, whereas pure olive oil (“olive oil” or “regular olive oil”) is a low quality oil which is a mixture of refined and unrefined oil. Because extra virgin olive oil is unrefined, it retains the natural antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and good fat found in olives. The heat and chemicals used to collect pure olive oil, on the other hand, removes some of the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Pure olive oil is also more acidic than the extra virgin version.
Moreover, extra virgin olive oil has a distinct, olive flavor and a golden-green color whereas pure olive oil has a light gold color and a faint olive taste. Since extra virgin olive oil is more expensive, it is sometimes reserved for salad dressings, dips, and baked recipes that call for small amounts of oil, while pure olive oil can be used as an all-purpose oil.
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil||Pure Olive Oil|
|Also called “EVOO”||Also called “olive oil” or “regular olive oil”|
|High quality and expensive||Low quality and affordable|
|Unrefined; collected by cold pressing||Contains both unrefined and refined olive oil|
|Golden-green; intense olive flavor||Light gold; faint olive flavor|
|Oleic acid content is less than 1%||Contains 3%-4% oleic acid|
|Retains the natural antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and good fat found in olives||Has fewer antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals|
|Great for salad dressings, dipping sauce and baked recipes that does not require much oil||Can be used as an all-purpose oil|