Extra Virgin Olive Oil

What to Taste in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

About Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is predominately made up of Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. It is monounsaturated as it contains one double bond between carbon 9 and 10 in the fatty acid structure.

The monounsaturated oils are the good guys in the cholesterol debate along with the polyunsaturated oils that have more than one double bond between the carbon molecules. Extra Virgin Olive Oil also contains some polyunsaturated and a small amount of saturated fatty acids. Olive Oil, Canola Oil and avocado oil are generally seen as the preferable fat for health purposes. They are active in reducing the LDL cholesterol, which is the bad cholesterol in our bodies, but they don't oxidize as readily as polyunsaturated oils. When oxidation occurs these oils take up oxygen in the body changing the fats' composition. This process has been linked to heart disease, cancer, cataracts and aging. This is why anti-oxidants have become so popular in recent years, as research shows that they guard against oxidation. Antioxidant vitamins C, E, and Beta-carotene are found in abundance in fruits and vegetables.

Studies have shown that these antioxidants must be consumed as food. In tablet form they have not been proven to be effective. There is a long history of people consuming olive oil in substantial amounts with few apparent detrimental effects. It seems that the oil itself contains a wide variety of antioxidants.

Extra Virgin Olive Oils have flavour characteristics that canola oil does not have. These characters make the oils distinctly different, delicious, and sought after.

Extra Virgin Olive oil is used as a flavouring ingredient in many dishes. Oils from different areas, like wines, will have their own special characters. There are three grades of olive oil. "Extra Virgin" is the first grade, "Virgin" the second and "Pure Olive Oil" the lowest. Unfortunately, most consumers are not aware of this and many think that "pure" means good. This confusion has arisen due to marketing other products using the term pure as a selling point. The regulations state that this claim can only be made to describe single ingredient foods like flour containing no additives, or mixtures of pure foods of the same type e.g. fruit juice. Light olive oil is only light in colour due to the variety of olive used. It does not contain fewer calories as some consumers may think.
This Olives to Oil chart helps explain the four types of olive oil.

Olives to Oil chart the four different types of olive oil
Telegraph Hill produces great tasting award winning Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We hope you will value our oil for its superior taste and quality, along with its health benefits.

Telegraph Hill Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Quality means everything here and to ensure the best, EXTRA VIRGIN oil is always produced: close attention is paid to detail in the oil making process. This attention to detail resulted in awards at competitions locally and internationally. As the olives ripen they are picked and dispatched to a centrifugal olive press for pressing within 24 hours.

The centrifugal method cold presses the olives (without the addition of heat) inside a stainless steel press away from air contact. This process separates the oil directly from the paste. The method preserves the quality and does not destroy the antioxidants, in particular vitamin E, in the oil.

The result is a beautifully peppery oil that carries a strong aroma of olives and freshly cut grass. The estate grown oil is unfiltered so that all the flavour is retained. It is thicker and creamier than commercially produced extra virgin olive oils.

The oil is scientifically tested to determine the level of free fatty acid. This result must be less than 1% in order for it to be labelled as Extra Virgin Olive Oil. All our oils are well below the 1% requirement. An organoleptic taste test is also made to establish that Telegraph Hill Extra Virgin Olive Oil has the required attributes of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

How Extra Virgin Olive Oil is classified

Extra Virgin describes a broad category of olive oils and should be viewed as a minimum standard and not necessarily an indication of superior quality. Certain critical beneficial attributes of extra virgin olive oil like polyphenol levels, antioxidants, flavor and aromas decline over time, while undesirable conditions like rancidity, and the formation of free radicals develop.

Two of the most important POSITIVE chemical attributes are Polyphenol counts, and Oleic acid levels. The two most significant NEGATIVE chemical attributes are Free Fatty Acid levels and Peroxide values. In general, the higher the polyphenol count and Oleic acid levels the better, and the lower the levels for FFA’s and Peroxide values.

Olive Oil Terms

Positive indicators


Phenols are found in wine, tea, cocoa, fruits and vegetables. They are classes of natural anti-oxidant preservatives for plants, and for humans consuming them. Olives contain high concentrations of phenols. Among the 30 phenols found in EVOO, some are not found in other vegetable oils, and EVOO is the only edible oil to retain high phenolic content.

“Epidemiological studies and associated meta-analyses strongly suggest that long term consumption of diets rich in plant polyphenols offer protection against development of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases.”

Polyphenols give olive oil its unique taste and improve its shelf life. Some extra virgin olive oils contain far more, (up to 500% more!) polyphenols than others. The time of harvest, the variety, the method of extraction, and the management of the grove will affect the polyphenol count.

Processing or refining destroys the polyphenols in olive oil, and oils like “pure olive oil,” “lite olive oil,” and “pomace olive oil” have little or no polyphenols. Heat, light, oxygen, and time cause polyphenol levels in olive oil to decline.

As a rule, the more robust oils have higher phenolic compounds than the milder oils. Olive oils with less than 120 (as expressed by mg/kg) are considered low, those with a PPH count between 120 and 220 are considered medium, and olive oils with PPH counts above 220 are considered HIGH in polyphenols.

Oleic Acid – Omega-9 monounsaturated fat is found at varying concentrations in virgin olive oil. It is believed to lower the risk of heart attack, arteriosclerosis, and cancer. Virgin olive oils containing higher levels of OLEIC ACID tend to be more stable and hold up longer. In this sense high oleic acid tends to act as a natural preservative. Oleic acid is measured in olive oil as a percentage. The levels range from 55% to 80%+. Extra virgin oils with low oleic acid levels and low polyphenol counts will have a markedly reduced shelf life.

Negative indicators: In this case less is more.

Free Fatty Acids - FFA is the measurement of free fatty acids in olive oil. In a sense, the FFA level is an indicator of the condition of the fruit at the time the oil was extracted. It’s like a freshness quotient.

When olives begin to decompose, the level of free fatty acid rises. Fruit on the tree decays at a slower rate than fruit that has been removed from the stem because once the fruit has been picked or the skin is broken, the fruit decomposes at an accelerated pace. This ripeness, or freshness factor, plays a large role in the level of FFAs. While over ripe fruit produces a higher yield of oil to olives by weight, the free fatty acid level increases as well.

When olive oil is exposed to air, light, or heat, decomposition also increases until the oil is unfit for human consumption. Rancid oil is harmful and a source of free radicals. Olives that are crushed within 24 hours of picking will generally produce a higher grade of extra virgin olive oil provided the quality of the fruit and accepted methods of extraction are followed. Though difficult, it is possible to crush the fruit within hours after picking. Some farms have a mill on or close to the groves and manage to crush the olives within a few hours after picking. Fruit that is picked at the optimum level of ripeness and crushed within hours of picking will have much lower FFA and peroxide levels—in some cases as much as ten times lower than the accepted standards.

Source: Michael Bradley, President, Veronica Foods Co. Inc


Peroxides - Peroxides are naturally occurring compounds in all edible oils. They are essentially a measurement of rancidity or oxidation. In the case of peroxides and olive oil, less is more. Peroxide values increase over time and are indicators of the level of oxidation at the time of processing and increase according to storage conditions. Poor storage conditions will cause rapid oxidation and rancidity. The more oxygen, light and heat the oil is exposed to the faster the oil will become rancid. Olive oil keeps far better in bulk than in tiny glass or clear plastic containers. High peroxide levels are an indication of poor processing practices, substandard fruit condition, old age, improper storage or any combination of these negative conditions. This is another place where freshness counts in your olive oil!