It is commonly thought that the greater the acidity of an olive oil the stronger its flavour and, therefore, the more it should taste. This is clearly a conceptual error, the acidity is one thing and the fatty acid content (oleic and linoleic) is another. This can certainly have something to do with certain sensorial attributes of olive oil. Let’s look at this in a practical and easy way … P
What is the acidity of olive oil?
Firstly, the acidity is specified through an analysis, and it is the main quality parameter that determines if an olive oil can be sold as Extra Virgin, virgin or ‘Lampante’ (not suitable for consumption).
As such, the lower the acidity of olive oil, the greater its intrinsic quality.
For example, Extra Virgin olive oil has less acidity than Virgin olive oil, which means that there are fewer free fatty acids in its composition as a result of the breakage occurring at the union of the glycerine molecules and the fatty acids (oleic and linoleic acid), which make up the olive oil.
It is precisely these unions that are broken because the olive oil undergoes some chemical alteration, either because the olive has been attacked by some pest or disease when in the tree, it has not been correctly treated once it has been collected, or because the olive oil has deteriorated once it has been extracted from the olive.
The term “acidity of an oil” is the name of an analytical determination that indicates the “amount of free fatty acids” and has no direct relationship to the flavour.
The fact is that a lower acidity indicates that the fruit of the olive has undergone less damage and its juice will have better qualities. In this regard, regulations indicate that an extra virgin olive oil should never exceed an acidity level of 0.7º.