You may have heard that green olive oil is superior and that you should seek it out when grocery shopping.
The reality is, olive oil comes in a variety of different colors all of which depend on different factors such as the type of olives used, the ripeness of the fruit, and the processing methods employed. This delicious cooking fat can range in color from a pale yellow to a deep green.
In this article we dive into what makes olive oil green and if it's truly a superior product.
What is green olive oil?
Green olive oil is simply olive oil that's green in color or has hues of green. It's often seen when early harvest fruit exits the mill and remains unfiltered. This is because there are many remaining particles in unfiltered oil which greatly contribute to the overall color of the product. However, this isn't always the case. Even some of the freshest EVOO can exit the mill with yellow or golden hues.
Here's a list of colors the product can come in:
- Light green
- Bright green
- Dark green
- Light yellow
- Dark gold
Why is some olive oil green?
Green olive oil is often associated with green or unripe fruit and the color comes from the presence of chlorophyll, a pigment found in the cells of plants.
How is green olive oil made?
Green olive oil is often made from fruit that's harvested early, before they've fully ripened and turned black. The choice of olive cultivar and the timing of harvest greatly contributes to the products final color.
With that said, the actual production process of making green olive oil is the same as making other color oils. There's nothing additional producers add or take away during the process.
Here are the typical steps for producing olive oil:
- Farmers harvest fresh fruit in the fall
- The fruit is transported to the mill
- The mill extracts the oil from the fruit by separating the fat from water and physical material
- The oil is filtered
- The product is bottled
Related: How is EVOO made?
The Origins and legacy
Many have believed that green olive oil is superior.
Is green olive oil better?
No, because the color of an olive oil is not a definitive indicator of its quality. Factors such as taste and aroma are much more important. Some high quality EVOOs might be light yellow or gold in color. It simply depends on the cultivar, time of harvest, and the region where the fruit is grown.
Making blanket statements about products isn't very beneficial for this community and leads to stereotypes about products which then get repeated by consumers. In addition, olive oils are just as nuanced as wine and therefore, should be approached in a similar way.
Color doesn't matter
The color of olive oil is not a reflection of its quality. Want proof? Olive oil sommeliers use blue cups when tasting oil so they cannot tell the color and therefore, cannot judge the product based on sight alone.
The importance of cold milling
This artisanal method extracts oil without compromising its integrity. The low temperatures preserve the delicate flavors and nutritional components, creating a liquid masterpiece.
The importance of filtering
Filtering an oil can also make a difference in the color. This is because filtering removes so many particles from the product. Therefore, removes some of the color. For example, if an oil is green green when it exits the mill and then is filtered the color may fade a bit to a lighter green with the removal of the particles. This is completely normal and another example as to why we cannot base the quality of the product based on color alone.
Related: Filtered vs unfiltered EVOO
Is it healthier?
Not necessarily, all olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, particularly oleic acid, and contains antioxidants. However, the exact nutritional content can vary based on factors such as cultivar and processing methods. For example, fruit that is harvested earlier, while still green, is typically richer in antioxidants.
Related: Is olive oil similar to wine?
Does green EVOO always taste grassy?
No, olive oil has many different flavors and grassy is just one of them. Some also believe that greener oils have a more robust and peppery flavor compared to their yellow counterparts. But again this simply depends on the cultivar and time of harvesting.
Some other flavors EVOO can have include but are not limited to:
- tropical fruit
How to use green olive oil
You can use green olive oil the same as you would any other cooking fat. However, we don't recommend using it for deep frying foods such as french fries. It can be used for shallow pan frying savory goods such as zucchini fritters, fried artichoke, and calamari. Vibrant, delicious, fresh EVOO can be used for both cooking and finishing dishes.
Is green olive oil suitable for high-heat cooking?
Absolutely! In fact, fresher, early harvest EVOO has a higher smoke point than other oils because it's low in free radicals making it ideal for various cooking methods, including sautéing and roasting.
We do not recommend cooking on high heat with the fat, especially leaving pans filled with oil unattended on heat. However, this is not exclusive to EVOO, it applies to all fats.
Does green olive oil have a shelf life?
Yes, it does, the same as all EVOO. Store bottles and tins in a cool, dark place away from heat, light, and humidity. It's best to use unopen bottles within 2 years of the harvest date. Use open bottles within about 45 days. For more about best storage practices take a look at this post.
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