Filtered vs. Unfiltered Olive Oil: What’s the Difference?
You may have heard of people who only buy unfiltered olive oil because they say it’s better but is that really true?
As you may know, olive oil is the juice pressed from the olive. There are a few steps the olive undergoes to become the oil we know and love; cleaning, grinding, malaxation, separation and then finally, if desired, filtration.
Here are the main differences:
Unfiltered olive oil contains water and still has parts of the olive which give it a cloudy appearance. After some time, this sediment will naturally sink to the bottom (called racking). Because of the remaining olive particles that continue to ferment in the bottle, the shelf life of unfiltered olive oil is shorter than filtered, so it is best consumed as quickly as possible.
Some oils settle quicker than others but this is not an indication of quality. That has to do with the type of olive, the moisture in the olive, depth of oil, storage temperature and many other factors.
Filtered olive oil does not contain any particles from the olive so its appearance is crystal clear. To filter, the oil is put through a thick layer of cotton or mesh filter. Because there aren’t fermenting olive particles in filtered olive oil, its shelf life can go up to two years.
In terms of health benefits, you can’t really go wrong with either. You might have heard that olive oil has something very beneficial -a plant compound called a polyphenol. Non-polar polyphenols are found and dissolved in fatty acids while polar polyphenols are found in vegetable water. Unfiltered olive oil will have both of these polyphenols while filtered may only contain non-polar polyphenols.
As for our olive oils, they are generally filtered. The Early Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil is not micro-filtered, which is why sometimes you might see some sediment but we let them sit for a few weeks before bottling them so that they are as clear as possible.