What is the difference between Olive Oil & Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

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Updated January 28th 2021

Morocco Gold Extra Virgin Olie Oil
Morocco Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Although during these challenging ‘lock-down’ times we have not been able to hold our tasting events for Morocco Gold extra virgin olive oil at the likes of Fortnum & Mason in London, we  are delighted with the level of direct contact we have recently had with our customers, particularly in the United States, where our extra virgin olive oil is becoming increasingly popular.

We really appreciate the many positive comments people have made about our Extra Virgin olive oil. People have asked the following questions:

…and many others.

So, to take the last point first, not all olive oil is the same. There are different grades of olive oil according to its level of acidity, or level of free oleic acid. The amount of free oleic acid in olive oil indicates the extent to which fat has broken down into fatty acids.

Olive oil also falls into two distinct categories: refined and unrefined. Unrefined oils are pure and untreated. Refined oil is treated to remove flaws from the oil so it is more sellable.

The five different types of olive oil:

  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  2. Virgin Olive Oil
  3. Refined Olive Oil
  4. Olive Pomace Oil
  5. Lampante Oil

1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil : The Highest Quality Olive Oil

Extra Virgin olive oil is a wholly natural, unrefined oil and the highest quality olive oil you can buy. Genuine extra virgin olive oil is rare and as a result is slightly more expensive. 

Because of the way Extra Virgin olive oil is made, it retains more true olive taste, and has a lower level of oleic acid (no more than 0.8%) than other olive oil varieties. It also contains more of the natural vitamins and minerals found in olives.

Extra Virgin olive oil is completely natural. There is no treatment with chemicals or temperature alterations. It contains typically has a golden-green colour, with a distinctive fresh, green flavour and a light peppery finish.

How the fruit was grown, harvested and transported, how it was pressed into oil, and how the oil was packaged and bottled all contribute to ensure Extra Virgin olive oil like Morocco Gold is the best quality olive oil you can buy.

The definition of Extra Virgin olive oil is very precise regards production methods, taste and chemical composition. To be certified as Extra Virgin, an olive oil must:

  • Come from a single source, it is not mixed / blended with other olive oils, even if they are of Extra Virgin quality
  • Come from the first pressing of fresh, young olives, normally within 24 hours of harvesting
  • Be extracted purely by mechanical means at temperatures specifically below 28C.
  • Have free fatty acid or acidity level (normally measured as oleic acid) of less than 0.8%.
  • Be defect free and have a perfect taste and aroma.

So, what kind of olive oil is the healthiest – which oil is best for the heart? High quality Extra Virgin olive oils like Morocco Gold also contain the antioxidants and polyphenols that give the health enhancing qualities associated with olive oil.

Polyphenols In Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Polyphenols are a potent antioxidant, one that can decommission a nasty molecule in your body called free radicals. Free radicals can ricochet around inside your body and harm good cells. Antioxidants, such as the polyphenols found in extra virgin olive oil, work to neutralize free radicals; protecting the body from their harmful antics.

The high polyphenol content of Morocco Gold extra virgin olive oil is dependent on three factors. First is the variety of the olive, secondly the climate and terroire of the growing region and thirdly the actual time in the growing season that the crop is harvested.

Morocco Gold is pressed from the Picholine Marocaine, the only type of olive to go into our extra virgin olive oil. Oil from this variety is renowned for it’s high polyphenol count, oxidative stability and longevity.

Our olives are grown in a valley that is about 2,000 feet above sea level. This helps to create the additional climatic challenges that encourage polyphenol uptake within the olive tree. It is also an area with naturally occurring high phenols in the soil itself.

Thirdly, our olives are picked when the fruit is young and green. As the olives age on the tree, the colour of the olive changes to red and then black, the size of the olive increases thus producing more oil, but the polyphenol level decreases. There is a great deal of expertise within the farming community where we source our oil to ensure that the harvest is collected at the optimum time to maximise the polyphenol level within the extra virgin olive oil.

2. Virgin Olive Oil

Next in quality is virgin olive oil. It’s made using a similar process as extra-virgin olive oil and is also an unrefined oil, meaning chemicals or heat are not used to extract oil from the fruit. Virgin olive oil also maintains the purity and taste of the olive, though production standards are not as rigid.

According to the standards of the International Olive Council, virgin olive oil has a slightly higher level of oleic acid of up to 2%. It also has a slightly less intense flavour than extra-virgin olive oil. Virgin oil is rarely found, if ever, however, in grocery stores; usually your choice will be between extra-virgin, regular, and light olive oils.

3. Refined Olive Oil

These are olive oils that have been refined by using agents such as acids, alkalis and heat to extract as much oil as possible from the olive pulp that remains after the first pressing. The result is a fattier and more acidic oil which lacks taste, aroma and natural antioxidants found in extra virgin olive oil.

Producers then need to add unrefined extra virgin or virgin olive oil to give refined olive oil some flavour, colour and aroma into the blend. Terms such as “pure” or “100% pure” or “Light” are made up terms used by large producers and supermarkets. If the label states “pure” or “100% pure” or “Light” then the olive oil is a refined oil lacking the taste, aroma and quality of extra virgin olive oil

4. Olive Pomace Oil

The lowest grade of olive oil made from the by-products of extra virgin olive oil production. Olive skins, seeds and pulp are heated and the remaining oil is extracted using solvent. The result, pomace oil, is then put through a refining process, similar to pure or light olive oil.

Pomace olive oil is bland and extremely low in antioxidants.

5. Lampante Oil

Lampante oil comes from bad fruit or poor processing practices and has severe taste defects. It is not fit for human consumption until it has been refined.


For health conscious, discerning food lovers across all cultures and culinary backgrounds, Morocco Gold is a natural, unfiltered, ultra-premium, polyphenol rich extra virgin olive oil, whose exquisite taste and health enhancing qualities are guaranteed by our rigorous testing, provenance and authenticity, and strict adherence to single estate sourcing, with no blending or mixing.

Uniquely, we include the results of our chemical analysis for acidity, peroxide ultra-violet and polyphenol content testing on each-and-every bottle of Morocco Gold so that our customers can see at a glance the guarantee of extra virgin olive oil quality.

Find out more by reading our frequently asked questions regarding extra virgin olive oil.