For most of us, olive oil is a single, simple item that we pick up at the grocery store for cooking. However, there are actually about 139 olive oil varietals out there that you can try!
If you’re interested in learning more about the different olive varietals and what makes each one unique, this guide is for you. Let’s take a look at how different varieties of olive trees can make different oils.
First Things First: What Is Varietal Olive Oil?
Single varietal olive oils refer to products that are made from one type of olive. It can be pressed into extra virgin olive oils or any other grade of olive oil.
The varietal extra virgin olive oil is then named after the olive that was used to make the oil. If you’re looking for an oil made from a specific olive, just look for that olive’s name in the name of the olive oil!
What Are the Varieties of Olive Oil?
There are tons of different varieties of olive oil, and we’d need multiple blog posts to talk about all of them! However, there are a few varietals that are more common than others. Let’s take a look at a few common olive oil varietals.
This oil comes from the Picual olive oil producing trees. Picual olives have a high oil content, making them ideal for producing olive oil.
Picual olive trees come from Spain and tend to create oils that contain a high level of polyphenols. As a result, they tend to have noticeable bitterness and pungency.
Another Spanish olive oil variety is arbequina. This can be either as a table olive or for use in cooking and massages. Arbequina olive oil usually comes from Catalonia and is easily harvested.
Arbequina olive oil has low levels of bitterness and a much more buttery flavor than other oils. That makes them a popular choice with consumers.
Frantoio olive oil comes from the Tuscany region of Italy. These olives grow well in mild conditions and contain quite a high oil content.
Frantoio olive usually tastes a little bitter but in a pleasant way. It’s become a popular oil around the world.
Another Italian olive oil varietal is Coratina oil. Coratina olives come from the south of Italy rather than the central part of the country.
Interestingly enough, these olives aren’t often grown outside of Italy. However, they still have a delicious and robust flavor that contains a high level of polyphenols and antioxidants.
You’re probably familiar with these Greek olives. Kalamata olives are large and purple in color, coming with a meaty flavor.
These olives have a low oil percentage but can still make delicious olive oil. You’ll often find these olives preserved in wine or vinegar to help enhance their flavor.
Koroneiki olives are also Greek and actually make up the majority of the olives growing in the country. They’re grown all throughout the country as well as in many other nations around the world.
Koroneiki olives have an intense and bitter flavor. That’s thanks to the oleocanthal and polyphenols in the olives.
How Many Varieties of Olives Are There?
As we mentioned earlier, there are more than one hundred varieties of olive oil out there. Now, what’s important to know is that even though there are many types of single variety table olive oils, there are five grades of oil.
The grades of oil are:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Virgin olive oil
- Pure olive oil
- Refined olive oil
- Pomace olive oil
Let’s check out each of these in a bit more detail.
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The oil content in single varietal extra virgin olive oil is the purest you’ll find. This oil is processed at cold temperatures, which allows for a low acid content and extremely pure oil.
2. Virgin Olive Oil
Virgin olive oils are another cold-pressed olive oil. Virgin olive oil is temperature resistant and has a slightly milder taste than extra virgin olive oil. It’s a great choice for using in salad dressing.
3. Pure Olive Oil
Manufacturers make pure olive oil by mixing refined olive oil with virgin or extra virgin olive oil. This oil has high levels of vitamin E and is appropriate for cooking and massages.
4. Refined Olive Oil
You’ll generally find refined olive oil for cooking as it can be used for cooking at high temperatures. It has similar fat content to pure and virgin olive oil.
5. Pomace Olive Oil
The lowest quality olive oil you’ll find is pomace oil which is made from the residue of pressing the ripe fruit. The remaining oils that the olives produce during the pressing process get mixed with higher quality oils to improve their quality. You can use this for massages and cooking at high temperatures.
Which Variety of Olive Makes the Best Oil?
As we mentioned earlier, each olive oil variety has its own unique flavor. That means that finding the best olive oil varietal will mostly be left up to your personal preferences!
However, some of the most popular olive oil varietals are Arbequina olives, Arbosana olives, and Koroneiki olives.
Our recommendation? Try a few different types of olive oil to get a clearer picture of their flavor profiles and to figure out which you like best.
Enjoy Tasty Olive Oil Varietals
With this guide to olive oil varietals, you’ll have no problem selecting the perfect one for your kitchen. Now you know what to look for when selecting tasty and unique oils!
Do you want to shop some of the highest quality oils out there? Browse our olive oils (or other oils for that matter) and get a quote for one that you love!