Cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or rather “cold extraction”, often recommended by doctors, is normally the best quality EVOO obtained from the first olives of the harvest by means of a mechanical process of first cold pressing at less than 27ºC. We are going to see in detail how this process is carried out both in an artisanal and industrial way, and what are the benefits of cold extracted olive oil.
Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil = Superior category olive oil obtained directly from olives and solely by mechanical means at low temperatures (below 27ºC).
Cold pressed vs. cold extraction olive oil
In nutshell, the aim is to obtain the purest Extra Virgin Olive Oil by applying a process that alters the essence of the raw material as little as possible, and this is achieved by applying mechanical procedures at low temperatures (less than 27ºC). In fact, it is necessary to find a mechanism that exerts sufficient pressure on the olives to release their juice without altering it, so that the aromas, flavours and natural antioxidants of the fruit (vitamin E, polyphenols, etc.) are preserved. For this, we have basically two ways: one based on industrial techniques by COLD EXTRACTION, and another based on artisanal techniques by COLD PRESSING, which is obviously the most romantic and attractive for consumer :)
“Artisian” cold-pressed olive oil
In the following video we can see how to make cold pressed olive oil, in a traditional way with an oil press, just as it was done in the old days…
Making of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil in an oil mill (industrial techniques)
However, all modern olive oils are now produced using more sophisticated industrial machinery rather than an oil press. This is not only for reasons of efficiency, but also for reasons of hygiene and safety in the process, as it is necessary to obtain sanitary authorizations (Health Ministry registrations) to be able to market any food product, and the use of a press makes this very difficult. Thus, unlike what is done in a home oil mill as we saw before, in modern oil mills centrifugal machines are always used to extract the olive oil from the mass obtained by crushing and beating the olives.
According to current European regulations, in order to label an extra virgin olive oil with the surname ‘cold extraction’, special thermometers must be installed in the oil mill to record the temperatures of the paste and juice at all times during the extraction process.
Benefits of first cold-pressed olive oil (cold extraction)
“First cold-pressed olive oil” is the term many doctors use when recommending extra virgin olive oil labelled “cold extraction”, the highest quality and healthiest extra virgin olive oil. In this way, the aim is to alter the taste and the original properties of the fruit as little as possible, resulting in a natural juice with a maximum content of polyphenols and other natural antioxidants beneficial to health, such as: vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), hydroxytyrosol, oleocanthal, squalene, etc. We can recognise them perfectly in a cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil by their slightly more bitter and spicy taste.
The secret is in the polyphenols
These polyphenols or bioactive compounds in extra virgin olive oil, together with its high oleic acid content (more than 80%), are the ones responsible for the health benefits recognised by the EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) and other scientific studies such as Predimed:
- Regulates cholesterol and cardiovascular health.
- Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
- Benefits on the digestive system.
- Benefits on diabetes.