The question often comes as “how to determine the quality of olive oil? Or “How can the olive oil quality can be defined objectively?”. The list goes on and on. The first point that needs to be clarified here is the authenticity of the olive oil.
There are many methods developed over the years to determine the purity and authenticity of olive oil. Once the purity criteria are identified, the rest of the things that will be clarified are only the organoleptic feature of the olive oil and simple chemical value such as acidity and peroxide levels.
Our main approach is for the olive oil quality concept to focus on oxidative stability and its effects on the organoleptic features of the olive oil starting from production to consumption.
As Turkey’s leading factory of olive oil, the oxidative stability and keeping the flavor and aroma of the olive oil as high as possible is our main target. Therefore, starting from raw material supply up until the assessment of the production planning, the olive oils must be stored very sensitively.
When we refer to organoleptic features, we mean the color, taste, smell, and flavor of olive oil. To create the best possible olive oil and keep the oil’s quality as close as possible to its original levels, some factors need to be evaluated regarding the oxidative stability of the olive oil.
As it is well known that the two main spoiling reactions of olive oil are lipolysis and lipid oxidation. Lipolysis can be easily estimated as free acidity, but oxidation is more difficult and complex to evaluate.
Storing the Olive Oil Away from Light
The main factor that is checked for quality determination is the free acidity level. As filtered or unfiltered, olive oil’s free acidity level increases over time. This process is the Hydrolysis of triglycerides via lipolytic enzymes. This chemical process produces free fatty acids in terms of oleic acid.
Most of the time, a high-quality olive oil (such as Artem Oliva branded Extra Virgin Olive Oil) resists the autooxidation process longer than the other edible oils. Artem Oliva quality department has announced that the extra virgin olive oil or regular virgin olive oil almost shows no alterations in Peroxide levels and K232 levels under sealed and no-light conditions.
They also found that the oxidative process increases its pace when the container is open (naturally exposed to oxygen) and/or exposed to light.
Artem Oliva, therefore, uses nitrogen blanketed tanks where the oxygen is not allowed to enter the olive oil storage tanks. We use nitrogen gas to blanket the top of the olive oil tank. Oxygen exposure elevates the unwanted oxidative processes.
Specific absorbances are measured under the UV region and are used to determine the secondary products formed in the autooxidation process of the olive oil. The wavelengths used are 232 and 270 nm.
Normally, defining the peroxide and spectrophotometric analyzes are not as easy as measuring the free fatty acidity level. Artem Oliva, however, on the other hand, is carrying out both analyzes each time an olive oil is entering or leaves Artem Oliva’s olive oil factory.
Antioxidant Levels and Quality
Before entering the antioxidants, we need to give info about the free radicals. These are reactive oxygen species. Our bodies form these free radicals as the product of normal daily mesoblastic activity.
The level of free radicals may increase with some external factors such as smoking, radiation exposure, chemical exposure, and so on.
Therefore, these radicals must be intercepted and neutralized. Because they target to damage the DNA, proteins, and so on. The fight against the free radicals can be given with the beneficial compounds received from the foods the body.
Squalene is a hydrocarbon found in olive oil with its antioxidant activity. This is the biggest portion of hydrocarbon that can be found in extra virgin olive oil.
Squalene is known to be with its skin-protecting feature, immune-stimulating properties, and antineoplastic effects on various body parts.
There is a great amount of squalene in olive oil. EVOO contains about 300-650MG of squalene per 100GR.
Another compound that has antioxidant activity is tocopherols. This is a fat-soluble and alcohol-based compound that acts as Vitamin E. This compound specially neutralizes the free radicals and prevents a process of lipid damage to the cell membrane.
The shining star of olive oil antioxidant activity compounds is the phenolic compounds. The main ones are hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein. These compounds have two main features.
The first feature of these two compounds is that they have a very high antioxidant potential. Their powerful antioxidant activity is both in vitro and in vivo associated with anti-inflammatory action.
Not only antioxidant features of these compounds but also there is a great contribution to the taste and flavor of the olive. They give extra-virgin olive oil its bitter and pungent taste.
We know that most of our customers are looking for a bitter and pungent taste which is why the Artem Oliva team is always looking for keeping the antioxidant levels as high as possible in our extra virgin olive oils.
It is well known that there is not only one type of extra virgin olive oil. The simplest example of it is the Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. All of the quality factors defined here in this article perfectly fit the definition of Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil as well.