If you're a retail consumer, you're probably used to buying Extra Virgin Olive Oil for cooking in your kitchen. Have you ever seen Olive Pomace Oil on your grocery shelf? You usually won't, so a lot of people who don't buy industrial or food service oils don't even know that it exists.
That said, it is much more common in the food manufacturing and restaurant world. Since those are the industries that we at Centra Foods eat, sleep and breathe, I'd like to take today to weigh in.
Let me start by saying that Olive Pomace Oil isn't Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This may seem obvious to some, but it does warrant clarifying. They are two different grades or types of olive oil -- EVOO being the highest grade available and Pomace being the lowest grade available. If you buy Pomace thinking that it will be your delicious, fresh, sultry Extra Virgin Olive Oil (yep, that's how I actually think of EVOO -- I cook a lot!) you will be sorely disappointed.
Pomace: It's Different Than Your Usual EVOO
What is Olive Pomace Oil really? And how is it different from regular olive oil?
If you'd like to learn more about how Pomace (and the other grades of olive oil are made), below is a slide share visual presentation that I created to help explain the differences between each of the grades.
You can also read this article, The Grades of Olive Oil: Clear and Simple Definitions.
What Olive Pomace Oil Comes From
Another difference between olive pomace oil and EVOO/olive oil is exactly what it is produced from.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is produced from the fresh ripe fruit of the olive. The entire olive, including the fruit and the pit, is ground into a paste. That paste is typically centrifuged or spun (not pressed, contrary to the marketing term “first cold press”) to get the oil out.
Pomace, on the other hand, is produced from the remains of that already spun pulp, that is left over after that Extra Virgin is produced.
First Cold Press vs. Hexane Extracted
Extra Virgin has the honor of being called the first cold press (or really, the first cold "spin") of olive oil. The remaining pulp, however, still has some oil left in it that can't be squeezed out.
Rather than have that oil go to waste, they can extract the last of it using a solvent. In that process, that dry pulp will be “wrung out” in essence, like someone wringing the last of the water out of a damp sponge. The hexane is added, which causes the last of the oil to come out of the dry pulp. Then the hexane is removed.
Health Benefits: Pomace vs. EVOO
In terms of the health benefits found in olive oil, Extra Virgin has far more of the good stuff than the lower grades. Refined grades like Pure Olive Oil, Refined (Light) Olive Oil and Olive Pomace Oil are going to have less (or debatably, none) of the special healthy-for-you components.
What does that mean? Well, if you use Pomace you are missing out on the healthy polyphenols, sterols and squalene that are found in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. However, you are still getting the good benefits of healthier monounsaturated fats found in all olive oils.
Polyphenols are a key component to olive oil, and are considered to be one of the best health benefits. Polyphenols furnish the immune system, protect us from heart diseases and display anticancer activity as they act as free radicals traps. They protect olive oil from oxidative damage and they contribute to its superior oxidative stability among other edible oils. They also affect its taste, giving it a distinctive bitter flavor.
The sterols in Extra Virgin Olive Oil are known to decrease the blood cholesterol levels and help inhibit cholestrol absorption in the small intestine. Sterols have also been shown to act as anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-ulcerative, anti-oxidant and anti-tumor component. ²
Squalene is a component believed to prevent certain types of cancer and is beneficial for patients with heart disease and diabetes. Olive oil has the highest concentration of squalene compared to other edible oils (for example, olive oil has 5-20x more squalene than found in corn oil).
Why Manufacturers Use (Or Don't Use) Olive Pomace Oil
There are some very specific reasons that a food manufacturer would opt for Olive Pomace Oil over everything else.
Why some manufacturers love to use Olive Pomace Oil:
- It's the cheapest option that's still made from olives
- It has a light/mild flavor profile
- It stands up to heat
- It's good for product marketing
Why some manufacturers don't want to use olive pomace oil:
- It's solvent expelled (which means Whole Foods and Trader Joe's don't want to see it in your manufactured products, FYI)
- If their product is known to contain only the highest quality ingredients
- If the taste of their product depends on the flavor of EVOO
For Cooking Purposes: Pomace vs. EVOO
From a sensory standpoint, Pomace lacks the flavor, delicacy, and many health benefits of extra virgin olive oil. However, it does have a higher smoke point which makes it more commonly used for frying or in manufacturing.
My Personal Take On Pomace
Is olive pomace oil the best quality oil? No, absolutely not. No one would claim that it is. But is it the worst? No, absolutely not.
When I’m cooking with olive oil in my home kitchen, I always use an Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. However, I also understand the taste profile, heat and price restrictions that are placed on the R&D and purchasing departments of food manufacturing companies. They are two different situations, and not necessarily easily comparable.
I’d personally much prefer to cook with olive pomace oil instead of a conventional vegetable oil. After all, olive pomace oil is still made from olives, and across the board is still regarded as one of the healthiest oils available.
In comparison to a conventional corn, canola or soybean oil (your standard vegetable oils) which are also produced using solvent extraction, it’s still a better quality oil.
Topics: Olive Pomace Oil