If you were to travel to Italy or open any Italian cookbook, you will find that many of the recipes for Italian food start with a simple ingredient – extra virgin olive oil. Coming from the humble olive, this rich oil can make the difference between simple Italian food and rich Italian cuisine.
If you have been to Italy, you will know that many of the olive oils in grocery stores will never compare to the real thing. So here is the secret about Italian olive oil.
There are four different types of olive oil, and there are strict controls that the Italian government uses to classify extra virgin olive oil. The oils that receive this label have an acidity level that is under 1% when it is bottled. The other oils are sold at lower prices. The "inferior" oil can also be used industrially, in packaged foods and restaurants, or even to dilute better oils.
One farmer may have a grove of olive trees in the best location. He then picks his olives by hand and rushes them to the press, creating an oil that same day. This could lead to oil with a very low acidity level, some of the best olive oil possible. However, this method also only leads to a small amount of oil, enough for his own private use and possibly sell to the surrounding neighbors.