Are you wondering what refined olive oil is? Knowing the difference between refined and unrefined olive oil is very important for those who want to improve or monitor their health.
Refined olive oil is virgin olive oil that has been refined and processed to create a more stable, light tasting oil. The process of refining olive oil removes many of the health benefits that extra virgin olive oil offers.
Below, I will go through the process related to refining olive oil. After understanding what the olive oil is subjected to, it will become clear why this grade is inferior to that of extra virgin olive oil.
How Olive Oil Is Refined: The Process
First off, pure extra virgin olive oil is an oil that doesn’t contain any other odors or flavors if it does it will decrease the quality of the oil. Refined oils are obtained in the same way as extra virgin oil, but during the processing, these oils undergo additional processes to remove any flaws which make the oil unable to be sold.
To make the oil odorless, colorless and tasteless, it has to be processed using chemicals and high temperatures. A small portion of virgin olive oil is mixed into the refined oils to add some color and scent.
Extra virgin olive oil is typically the naturally obtained juice from fresh olives. The olives are smashed into a paste, and the oil is efficiently extracted from this paste without the use of unnecessary chemicals or extreme heat. Extra virgin olive oil has a unique fruity olive aroma and flavor. Also, it contains natural antioxidants too.
Refining oil is a more complex process, where steam, alkalis, acids, and other agents are used. The refining method removes all of the flavor, and aroma substances out of olive oil including its natural, health supporting antioxidants. Artificial antioxidants need to be put back into the olive oil to provide the refined olive oil with a reasonable shelf life.
The book ‘Extra Virginity’ written by Tom Mueller, an olive oil enthusiast and journalist, states that olive oil is one of the only vegetable oils that does not need to be refined. Since the refining procedure removes aromas, tastes, and many health-promoting properties of olive oil, no refined olive oil can legally be marketed as extra virgin olive oil.
Some grades of olive oil require refining because refining the olive oil removes any defects from the oil such as off-odors and flavors. If the refining process does not happen, it would make the oil unfit to be consumed by humans and will then be considered lampante oil.
The various steps that are involved in the refining process will be listed below. The number of steps depends on what elements have to be “cleaned-out”:
This step can also be referred to as water-refining, where the oil is treated with steam, hot water or water mixed with acid. Then a centrifuge is used to spin the oil at a high-speed. This removes the key cell membrane components that are the polyphenols and phospholipids liquids.
Inorganic compounds, lye, and caustic soda are used to treat the oil, which removes the color and unwanted free fatty acids.
This bleaching process heats the oil to 212 degrees Fahrenheit to remove the pigments.
During this step, the oil gets chilled fast, which solidify it and then it gets filtered. The solid matter such as the wax is than removed.
The undesirable tastes and scents are removed with steam and by heating the oil from 300 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
In order to create a more stable, light tasting oil, you must create refined olive oil, which is virgin olive oil that has been refined and processed. The refining of olive oil removes many of the health benefits that extra virgin olive oil can provide.
The olive oil must be degummed, neutralized, bleached, winterized, and deodorized in order to be refined. Unrefined olive oil is still a great option for those who are more health conscious.