Category : FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

(Click to download FAQ as a PDF file)

What does Extra Virgin mean?

“Extra Virgin” oil has no heat or chemicals used to extract the oil and falls within a set range on a number of chemical readings. The highest potential health benefits come from Extra Virgin.

“Virgin” oil has no heat or chemicals used to extract the oil but the oil is in a higher range of acidity and chemical readings.

“Plain”, “pure”, “light” or any other form of olive oil may have heat and or chemicals may be used to extract the oil and or the acidity will be in the highest range.

Why does Extra Virgin matter?

Extra virgin oil contains the highest amounts of the “good” things you can get from using olive oil, such as heart health, cancer fighting properties, antioxidants, etc. The other grades of oil may have minimal or none at all of the chemistry that can give you positive health benefits.

How long can I use my oil?

If you know when it was pressed you should plan to use it up within nine to 12 months of the pressing. NOT the date from when you buy or open it, but from when it was pressed. No matter how it is stored, olive oil is declining as it ages and will eventually have zero health benefit and begins to go rancid. Generally, oils from the Southern Hemisphere are pressed in May-June, and the Northern Hemisphere in November-December.

Can I cook with olive oil? Will it burn?

Fresh olive oil can take a higher heat. The smoke point is determined greatly by the age of the oil. As it ages, the smoke point goes down. Also, sometimes the more robust oils can take slightly more heat than the delicately mild oils.

Why don’t you have oil from all of the countries year round? Why can’t I find Italian oils in the fall?

Besides quality, freshness trumps everything, so we intentionally carry only the freshest available. While Italian oils can be great, Italian oils sold in the US in the fall are probably a year old already and have little or no health value. They may have lost flavor and begun to go rancid before you bring it home! We choose to instead carry oils from Southern Hemisphere countries such as Australia during the fall months, because they are fresher. Australian oils are sweeping award competitions, and countries such as this are definitely equal to Mediterranean oils. We seek to provide the freshest at all times. Our oils are independently laboratory tested by industry award-winning Modern Olives Laboratory Services to ensure the highest quality so we will carry the best from wherever we find it at the time.

Should I store my oil in the fridge?

Heat, light and air can affect the quality of your oil. Even in ideal conditions it declines as it ages. It is best to buy in quantities you can consume in three to six months. Store it in a dark bottle, in a cool, dark cupboard; not in the refrigerator.

What is independent laboratory testing?

Benessere carries only the finest, top quality, extra virgin olive oil. Our oils are independently laboratory tested by industry award-winning Modern Olives Laboratory Services.

Extra virgin olive oil decreases in flavor and health benefits over time. Fresh-crushed olive oil is like fresh-squeezed fruit juice in that it contains the most flavor and nutrients. Old, poorly made and improperly stored extra virgin olive oil yields fewer if any health benefits and has an undesirable flavor.

Crucial Olive Oil Chemistry Definition Key

Oleic Acid: is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid found in olive oil. Olive oil is generally higher in oleic acid than other vegetable fats. The range found in extra virgin olive oil is between 55-85%. Extra virgin olive oil high in oleic acid has greater resistance to oxidation. Generally, higher is better.

Free Fatty Acids (FFA): Based on IOOC Standards the maximum limit for free fatty acid in extra virgin olive oil is 0.8g per 100g or (.8%). A low FFA is desirable. Free fatty acid speaks to the condition of the fruit at the time of crush. The higher the FFA, the greater the indication of poor quality fruit such as damaged, overripe, insect infestation, overheating during production or too much of a delay between harvest and crush. Generally, lower is better.

Peroxide Value: Based on IOOC Standards the maximum peroxide value for extra virgin olive oil is 20. A very low peroxide value is desirable. Unsaturated free fatty acids react with oxygen and form peroxides, which create a series of chain reactions that generate volatile substances responsible for a typical musty/rancid oil smell. These reactions are accelerated by high temperature, light, and oxygen exposure.

Polyphenol Count: Polyphenols are a class of antioxidants found in a variety of foods. Polyphenols such as OleuropeinOleocanthal, and hydroxytyrosol impart intensity connected with pepper, bitterness and other desirable flavor characteristics. Recent studies indicate that these potent phenols are responsible for many of the health benefits associated with consuming fresh, high quality extra virgin olive oil. Phenols in olive oil decrease over time or when exposed to heat, oxygen and light. Consuming fresh, well made olive oil with high polyphenol content is crucial when looking to obtain the maximum health benefit commonly associated with consuming extra virgin olive oil.

New Testing Methods Based on Olive Oil Chemistry

You’ll see these rating terms shown on our Ultra Premium Traditional Extra Virgin Olive Oils

DAGs Test/Score:  Measures the proportion of two forms of diacylglycerol:  1,2 and 1,3.  In oil freshly made from sound olives of good quality, the prevalent form of DAG is the 1,2 form where the fatty acids are bonded to a glycerol molecule in the 1 and 2 positions.  The bond on the 2 position is weak and easily broken, leading to the migration of that 2 position fatty acid to the 3 position.  This results in the much more stable 1,3 DAG.  This makes the ration of 1,2 DAGs to the total DAG’s a good indicator of the quality of the olive fruit and the processing.  It is also an indicator of the age of an oil, since the migration from 1,2 to 1,3 DAGs takes place naturally as the oil ages.  Warmer storage temperatures, and higher free fatty acid levels will both accelerate this process, but DAGs are not affected by the short exposure to high heat that is characteristic of deodorizing (refining).

Not used by all oil councils or organizations yet.  Australian standard is more than or equal to 35, EVA standard is more than or equal to 40.  Ultra Premium Standard is more than or equal to 90.


PPP Test/Score:  This test was developed to measure the degradation of chlorophyll in olive oil.  This degradation of chlorophylls to pyropheophytin was found to take place at a predictable pace, making it possible to gain information about the age of an olive oil. The rate at which the degradation occurs can be accelerated by even short periods of high temperatures – such as that which is utilized during the deodorizing or soft column refining process – making it a useful indicator of the presence of deodorized olive oil as well as the age of the oil.

Not used by all oil councils or organizations yet.  Australian standard is less than or equal to 17, EVA standard is less than or equal to 15, Ultra Premium standard is less than or equal to 5.