Let’s review some questions about unfiltered olive oil and how it differs from filtered olive oil, for example: Is cloudy unfiltered olive oil good? Can unfiltered olive oil be used for cooking? How long does unfiltered extra virgin olive oil keep for? These are questions that we receive from many consumers, now that unfiltered olive oil is once again in fashion and can even be found in large supermarkets. But be careful, unfiltered olive oil is a delicate product and it tends to spoil easily with heat and direct light in traditional shops.
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UNFILTERED olive oil, why is it cloudy?
Like freshly squeezed natural orange juice, olive oil cold-pressed from fresh olives contains a small amount of impurities in the form of water and olive particles coming directly from the fruit. This is why unfiltered olive oil appears cloudy and more dense, and its degree of impurities (1% to 3%) will depend mainly on its level of decanting. The cloudy appearance of unfiltered olive oil will change little by little due to the natural action of gravity, temperature and time, and we will see how sediment settles to the bottom of the container, just like freshly squeezed orange juice.
Making of unfiltered extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil is extracted from the mass of crushed olives, first in a horizontal centrifuge that separates the solids (pulp, stone and skin), and then, normally in a vertical centrifuge, the liquids (oil and water) are separated. Despite this, there are always impurities integrated in the juice, which over time are decanted in a completely natural way, either in decanting tanks or in the tanks in the cellar, where the unfiltered olive oil rests until it is bottled. This natural decanting process, due to the difference in density, causes the impurities to precipitate to the bottom and they can be eliminated. This operation is more or less slow, depending on several factors, and depends very much on the state of ripeness of the olives, the temperature and the extraction process.
Filtering olive oil
If the olive oil is going to be exposed to light and heat, for example on a supermarket shelf, it is essential to filter it in order to eliminate all impurities and extend its life, although in exchange we lose a certain amount of polyphenols and natural antioxidants present above all in the skin and pulp of the olive. However, in order to preserve as much of these original compounds as possible, the filtering process is done in a completely natural way using a filter like the one shown above, passing the oil through multiple layers of cellulose and diatomaceous earth that capture moisture and solid impurities until it is clean and shiny.
In short, the natural filtering process removes a small part of the polyphenols contained in fresh unfiltered olive oil, in exchange for giving it more temperature stability and extending its shelf life by a few months.
Benefits of unfiltered extra virgin olive oil and its polyphenols
Fresh unfiltered olive oil has a maximum content of chlorophylls and bioactive compounds responsible for its more genuine colour and flavour. In general, unfiltered olive oil contains up to 5% more polyphenols and natural antioxidants (chlorophyll, hydroxytyrosol, oleocanthal, etc.) due to the particles of olive skin and pulp. However, in order not to spoil them…
We recommend using this juice only and exclusively raw or for cooking at low temperatures (stews, stir-fries, etc.), and not to use unfiltered olive oil for frying or at temperatures above 120ºC.
Buy unfiltered olive oil directly to producer
Impurities in fresh unfiltered olive oil are responsible for its more quickly oxidation process and it must be carefully protected, especially from light and heat. For this reason, we always recommend buying olive oil directly from producer and storing it in its box in a cool place, where it can be kept in perfect condition for about a year, although we always recommend consuming it within the first six months of the year. Unfiltered olive oil follows its natural decanting process inside the container, and it is very normal for sediments to appear at the bottom of the container, which are precisely the remains of skin, pulp and stone of the olive, which gradually decant, especially with the heat in the summer months.
Unfiltered or filtered olive oil, which one to choose?
It depends on what we are looking for, where we can store the oil and, above all, how long we are going to keep it. Honestly, if we are regular consumers of olive oil raw, either in spoonfuls, on bread or in salads, it is worth buying UNFILTERED organic extra virgin olive oil from greener olives. If, on the other hand, we use it for both raw and cooking and we are not going to consume it so quickly (in about 6 months), it is better to buy filtered extra virgin olive oil.