What Defines "Extra Virgin" Olive Oil?

I taught K-6 at a private school in Seattle a year after completing graduate school, and I remember a discussion about Virtues with third-graders, one of whom asked what the saying, “Patience is the mother of all virgins,” means. Something she may have misheard at home.

But I’m thinking of two of the words: Virgin, as in our Bramasole Olive Oil, and not just Virgin but Really Virgin, Extra Virgin, maybe even Extra Extra Virgin, if there were such a demarcation. Extra Virgin refers, as many of you probably know, to the acidity level of the oil. Technically, Extra Virgin means the acidity level is below 0.8% per 100 grams of oil. Our oil, for example, is 0.18% - doesn’t get any fresher!

Patience - what is it that we’re waiting for. Every September, we wait for the olives to tell us when they want to be picked. And then we wait a little longer for the pressing and the centrifuge to throw us the great oil - for us in Tuscany, each olive rarely gives up more than 15% oil. The other part of it, its 85%, becomes la sansa, the pulpy residue, trucked to an olive oil refinery in Northern Italy to make something called, simply, olive oil (beware!). What you find in our bottle is only the 15%.