What is acidity?

Posted by Anthony Kasandrinos on

Everything you need to know about olive oil acidity.

Let’s start with a simple rule about the acidity of olive oil before diving a bit deeper into the meaning of the term and the interesting chemical and biochemical facts regarding olive oil’s acidity.

Today we are diving deep into the olive oil and cheese food pairing to help you make the right picks and elevate your game.

The lower the acidity of olive oil, the better.


^^ That’s a good starting point if you are new to the olive oil world. ^^

But what is acidity and why is it a factor when it comes to the overall quality of the product?

Acidity is the percentage in weight of free oleic acid in relation to the total quantity of oil. So basically it’s all about the total amount of fatty acids the oil contains.
When the oil is naturally generated within the olives (if you are interested in learning more about the types of olives please check out this post) triglycerides are being formed. Each triglyceride is made up of three fatty acids linked by a molecule called glycerol. During the production of olive oil, any potential oxidizing atmosphere would lead to a breakdown of that link between the glycerol and the three fatty acids. This causes the fatty acids to be released and consequently, the olive oil starts degrading as the olives are under the production process, and the pulp comes in contact with the air and exposed to oxidation elements. Most vegetable oils including olive oil are weak acids. They are not soluble in water, hence their acidity cannot be measured in terms of pH levels. It is usually estimated in percent free acidity.

Let’s talk numbers:

The level of acidity of olive in its original state is 0%
Extra virgin olive oils: acidity less than or equal to 0,8 %
Virgin olive oils: acidity less than or equal to 2 %
When the acidity rises more than 2% the oil is not suitable for consumption so these are classified as lampante oils.

Acidity and flavor:

There's a common misconception that the acidity of olive oil is linked to the flavor of the product and the intensity of its taste and aroma. The truth is that fatty acids have no taste or odor. You can't simply tell the acidity of olive oil by tasting it. Acidity cannot be detected by sensory analysis. It can only be measured by carrying out laboratory tests and performing acidity analysis to the olive oils. So the common belief that the greater the acidity of olive oil, the better its flavor, is a wrong assumption and a far from the truth, conceptual misinterpretation. Keep in mind that there is no direct relationship between the acidity and the taste of an olive oil however it is an indicator of quality. 

Acidity and quality.

Although acidity has nothing to do with the taste, it's an excellent indicator of quality that is to be taken seriously when it comes to evaluating a premium olive oil. An extra virgin olive oil should be of the highest quality, so the lower the acidity the higher the quality. Its acidity level shouldn’t be higher than 0.8 % so that’s something to keep an eye on before committing to make a purchase. A lower acidity percentage indicates that the olive fruit has undergone less damage so it maintains more of its healthy nutritional qualities.


We hope that this article has shed some light on your olive oil acidity related questions. Savvy olive oil consumers rejoice as we are going through all of your messages, questions and comments on our social media and we are working on educational posts to address them all in a fun explanatory way. Feel free to drop us a line, we are always happy to hear from you!


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