Pressing tree-ripened olives extracts a flavorful, monounsaturated oil that is prized throughout the world both for cooking (particularly in Mediterranean countries) and for salads. Today’s marketplace provides a wide selection of domestic olive oil (most of which comes from California) and imported oils from France, Greece, Italy and Spain. The flavor, color and fragrance of olive oils can vary dramatically depending on distinctions such as growing region and the crop’s condition. All olive oils are graded in accordance with the degree of acidity they contain. The best are cold-pressed, a chemical free process that involves only pressure, which produces a natural level of low acidity. Extra virgin olive oil, the cold-pressed result of the first pressing of the olives, is only 1 percent acid. It’s considered the finest and fruitiest of the olive oils and is therefore also the most expensive. Extra virgin olive oil can range from a crystalline champagne color to greenish-golden to bright green. In general, the deeper the color, the more intense the olive flavor. After extra virgin, olive oils are classified in order of ascending acidity. Virgin olive oil is also a first-press oil, with a slightly higher level of acidity of between 1 and 3 percent. Fino olive oil is a blend of extra virgin and virgin oils (fino is Italian for fine). Products labeled simply olive oil (once called pure olive oil) contain a combination of refined olive oil and virgin or extra virgin oil. The new fight olive oil contains the same amount of beneficial monounsaturated fat as regular olive oil

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