There are many factors that influence the quality and taste of olive oil. Some are easier to explain than others, but we'll do our best! This is just a start. We will keep working on providing additional information on this page and improving it so come back and visit us for updates or test your knowledge by taking our olive oil quiz. Its detailed answers provide lots of information on this subject.

The best quality oil is extra virgin. In Europe and other countries, there are guidelines for what can be called extra virgin, however, in the United States, there is no legal definition of the term extra virgin. Several producers, both foreign and domestic, unfortunately misuse this phrase and sell inferior oil labeled as extra virgin. In addition, label information can be confusing, sometimes even misleading. For instance, terms like cold press, first press or light (lite) are obsolete, unregulated, or both.

In order to address this problem, the California Olive Oil Council (COOC) has developed an Extra Virgin Certification Program and requires its members to submit oil samples to be tested before the oil can be sold as extra virgin. Here is the COOC's definition of extra virgin:

    Extra virgin olive oil is obtained from the fruit of the tree solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions that do not lead to deterioration of the oil. No chemicals or extreme heat may be used during the extraction process. Extra virgin olive oil must pass a wide range of chemical tests, including a maximum acidity, in terms of oleic free fatty acid, of not more than 0.5 % (new COOC standard) and a peroxide value of less than 20 meq O2/kg. In addition, it must be judged defect-free with some olive fruitiness, determined through a blind sensory evaluation by a trained tasting panel.

You will find the COOC's certification seal on all Figueroa Farms California extra virgin olive oils.