Produzione e vendita olio extravergine di oliva pugliese

The colour of extra virgin olive oil: answers to frequently asked questions

From deep green to straw yellow: extra virgin olive oil has a variety of colours that tell its story. Let’s discover them together

Our passion for extra virgin olive oil has often led us to deal with different topics involving it, from its composition to the health benefits of olive oil, from its processing at the mill to the tastiest recipes typical of our region. Another important aspect we want to consider today is the colour of the oil.

What colour is extra virgin olive oil?
Why does oil turn from green to yellow?
Why is freshly made olive oil very green?
Why does olive oil change colour?
Why does oil turn white?
When does oil turn dark?

These are just some of the most frequently asked questions about the colour of extra virgin olive oil. So how about finally answering the doubts you have always had and finding out why an oil has a particular colour that changes over time?

The colour of extra virgin olive oil

What colour is extra virgin olive oil? The answer is… many! It would be wrong to state, in fact, that extra virgin oil has only one colour: its nuances are many and range from deep green to bright green, from straw yellow to golden yellow. In short, there is a whole palette of nuances and colours that can tell the story of the characteristics of a certain type of oil.

But on what do all the shades of colour that we can find in extra virgin olive oil depend? On different factors: the type of cultivar, the area of origin, the type of soil, the degree of ripeness of the olives used, the state of preservation and the presence of chlorophyll and carotenes.

When we talk about extra virgin olive oil we cannot speak of just one colour, but of a universe of tones: in that liquid gold, in fact, there are so many nuances concealed that they would make a Renaissance painter envious. And this universe of tones that awaits us can tell us many things about extra virgin oil, even if the colour itself is not taken into account in the panel test for quality assessment.

There are excellent deep green oils as well as excellent yellow oils: the only way to test their characteristics is through tasting. But precisely to avoid colour influences during the panel test the oil is placed in dark glasses that hide its hue: it must therefore only demonstrate its quality through taste and fragrance.

Why does oil turn yellow from green?

Here is another very popular question when it comes to the colour of oil. Among the factors that give oil a certain colour are carotenes and chlorophyll. These pigments have an antioxidant effect and both must be understood in order to best preserve the oil and discover its characteristics.

Why is freshly made olive oil very green? Because it is still a young oil, obtained from unripe olives and therefore still rich in chlorophyll.

However chlorophyll degrades over time giving way to yellow which is obtained from carotenes, the other important pigment in oil. This is also affected by the composition of the soil and the type of cultivar used. The Coratina olive, which is typical for our Intense Fruity Oil, is rich in antioxidants and is pressed when it is still in the early stages of ripening. In this way, it gives the extra virgin olive oil an intense green colour, which comes precisely from the chlorophyll.

On the other hand olives pressed when fully ripe, such as Taggiasca olives, will have already lost their chlorophyll content and will therefore give the extra virgin oil a lighter hue and a yellowish colour.

In other cases it may happen that the colour tones are too bright and bright, smelling fake, also associated with uncommon fragrances. This is an important clue, suggesting that the oil has been refined: through this process, carried out at high temperature, the oil loses much of its colour and flavour, acquiring a lighter colour that is not, however, indicative of high quality.

Or it may happen that olive leaves have been added during pressing – a practice that gives the oil a more intense green colour but also risks making it more bitter and less graceful in its flavour – or even synthetic chlorophyll. But when choosing a top-quality oil such as that of Frantoio Muraglia, such worries are misplaced: just let yourself be guided by our experience to be sure of consuming a top-quality product.

Why does oil turn dark?

One of the most important things to remember when storing an extra virgin olive oil correctly is not to expose it to the sun or heat: exposure to high temperatures and oxygen in the air may cause it to oxidise and thus go rancid.

A rancid oil may present a darker colour tending to that of whisky, as well as a very strong and unpleasant smell. Extra virgin olive oil is stored in dark bottles or tins precisely to protect it from light. The best thing, therefore, is to keep it in a closed cabinet, protected from light and from temperatures that are too high or too low: only in this way can its quality be preserved at its best and its full flavour be enjoyed.

Why does oil turn white?

We talked about too high and too low temperatures: have you noticed that your extra virgin olive oil has white spots or dots? What does this mean? Is it a bad quality oil?. No, much more simply it has been stored cold and has undergone a freezing process.

The triglycerides that make up the oil have crystallised creating white pellets that tend to settle at the bottom of the bottle. Once restored to the ideal temperature of 14 to 18 degrees it returns to a liquid state and can be used safely

Of course, it would be better not to go that far, but to take care of the extra virgin oil as best you can, to preserve its characteristics (including colour) and fragrance, storing it properly at the right temperature and in the dark.

The colour of extra virgin olive oil is ultimately a valuable source of information that tells us about the type of oil we are looking at. What would you say, then, to try its many shades of colour and flavour, choosing a high quality oil like the one from Frantoio Muraglia? All the flavour of the Coratina and Peranzana olives is waiting to amaze you with their ever-changing fragrances, declined in the many oils available in our online shop!


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