Perfectly Imperfect Olive Oil

Have you ever noticed that sometimes your bottle of Libellula extra virgin olive oil has floating particles or some kind of sediment?

Does it mean your oil has gone bad? Should you be concerned?

It is perfectly normal! Those particles (often brownish in color) are tiny pieces of crushed olives.

But why have you never seen this in the olive oil you’ve bought at your local grocery store?

Great question!

It starts with the process of filtering olive oil.

All extra virgin olive oil begins the same way: olives are carefully picked, washed, and pressed. The freshly pressed olives form a paste which is then passed through a centrifuge. This separates the oil from the crushed olive pulp.

At this point, the extra virgin olive oil is perfectly fine to consume. However, because it has not been filtered, it will have a thick, cloudy appearance.

Cloudy, unfiltered olive oil about to be filtered with a metal mesh screen.

There are benefits and drawbacks to unfiltered extra virgin olive oil. First, the shelf life is shorter. Rather than a year or two, unfiltered olive oil should be consumed within the first six months or so from opening.

Secondly, sometimes the cloudy appearance will dissuade people who are not aware of the differences between filtered and unfiltered olive oil from buying this.

Because of the organic matter left in the unfiltered olive oil, unfiltered olive oil has a significantly higher polyphenol count (those micronutrients that protect the body's tissues against oxidative stress, cancer, heart disease, and inflammation). It is also richer in antioxidants.

Filtered extra virgin olive oil, on the other hand, goes through the additional step of being strained through a physical filter (often a metal mesh filter or cotton filter) to sift out any last pieces of the fruit of the olive. This creates a translucent green olive oil that is probably what you are accustomed to seeing.

What do we do here at Libellula?

Our goal at Libellula is to give you the best of both worlds. We filter our olive oil. But we do not take the additional step of micro filtering, which most industrial companies do.

Our farmer with a glass of Libellula extra virgin olive oil.

Through filtering, we are able to give you an olive oil of consistent quality and a more stable shelf life. But by not micro filtering, we keep as many polyphenols in each drop as possible.

By taking out every little piece of crushed olives, micro filtering can also reduce the flavor of olive oil. And we believe that olive oil should taste like olives!

So if you see a few particles floating in your bottle of Libellula extra virgin olive oil, know that these are just tiny pieces of crushed olives from our groves in Sabina. Our extra virgin olive oil is perfectly imperfect, just like each of us are. 😊

Libellula's farmers enjoying a jovial moment of rest during the olive harvest.