Flavored and infused olive oils are increasing in popularity. With just a simple stroll down the grocery store aisle, you can spot all sorts of tasty options. If you want your olive oil to have a savory hint of rosemary, basil, or garlic, that’s not a problem. In fact, you can even find olive oils with a splash of citrus thrown into the mix, such as lemon olive oil or blood orange olive oil.
While the terms flavored and infused are often intermixed, the two types of olive oils have some varying characteristics. Infusing flavors into olive oil is an excellent way to elevate this staple pantry item, but consumers need to be aware that there is a difference between flavored and infused olive oils.
Fused vs Infused vs Flavored
When shopping for flavored olive oil, you will come across a wide variety of titles. Labels might read:
- Naturally flavored
- Herbal flavored
- Fusion of flavor
Each one of these terms might appear to give you the same product - an olive oil with a unique taste. Yet in reality, the production process for each kind varies greatly. To understand the difference between flavored and infused olive oils, you need to know how fused olive oil differs from flavored or infused.
Fused Olive Oil
Fused olive oils combine the desired “flavor” and olives together when the olives are pressed as part of a mechanical extraction process to make the olive oil. Whole ripe olives along with the fresh produce of choice are manufactured simultaneously.
Infused Olive Oil
Infused olive oils combine the chosen “flavor” with an already manufactured olive oil. Once the oil is extracted from the olives and made into olive oil, then essential oils from a fruit, vegetable, herb, or plant are blended in.
Flavored Olive Oil
Flavored olive oils are typically made with artificial additives that are designed to imitate a certain “flavor”. These additives can also consist of preservatives, chemicals, or food coloring.
Infusing Flavors Into Olive Oil
It can be confusing and difficult to decipher the terms that appear on labels. Olive oils can be blended, mixed, manufactured, or infused with flavors, but the real difference between flavored and infused olive oils comes down to how the olive oil was created and what it contains.
What is required to infuse flavor in olive oil? Let’s talk about one method used to manufacture infused olive oil - an olive oil that is blended with essential oils from plants, herbs, or fruit.
Essential oils can be extracted using various techniques. Steam distillation is one of the most popular ways that essential oils are isolated and extracted.
Steam distillation is the process of utilizing steam to capture a plant’s molecules. It begins by placing the desired plant into a container that can tolerate the soon-to-be-added hot steam. Hot steam is then added to the container and passes through the material of the plant.
From there, the heat vaporizes the plant’s valuable molecules and those compounds are collected into a cooling chamber. When the captured vapor cools, the essential oil takes on a liquid form as it condenses.
The next step involves separating the essential oil from any water that is collected from the water-soluble portion of the plant. Water and oil don’t mix, which makes most types of essential oils rise and float on the surface of the water allowing the oil to be siphoned off into a separate container.
Although there are numerous extraction methods, steam distillation is known for its ability to preserve the natural attributes of the plant material. Other methods can diminish or alter those beneficial qualities of the plant, but steam distillation is considered one of the only extraction methods that results in a pure essential oil.
Flavoring Olive Oils
Once the steam distillation process is complete, how are those essential oils inserted into the olive oil? In other words, how does the olive oil become flavored?
Oftentimes, that last key part of creating an infused olive oil is a proprietary process. Infusing flavors into olive oil requires a delicate balance of blending the two components together, and typically, every manufacturer of olive oil has a distinct way of making that happen.
Is Infused Olive Oil Healthy?
In general, olive oil is considered a healthy cooking and baking ingredient. But to answer whether infused olive oil is healthy, let’s ask the question, “What is the difference between garlic infused and garlic flavored olive oil?”
Remember how there is a difference between flavored and infused olive oils? Knowing that difference in how an olive oil is manufactured is the key to identifying healthy olive oil. Just because an olive oil is labeled as garlic, does not mean it offers the excellent health benefits that come with consuming garlic.
Garlic Flavored Olive Oil
Garlic flavored olive oil is simply that - a flavored oil with some sort of additive to reflect the flavor of garlic. A chemical additive cannot contain the valuable properties of real garlic.
Garlic Infused Olive Oil
Garlic infused olive oil is an olive oil that is blended with actual fresh garlic, which means you get the health benefits of both garlic and olive oil when you consume garlic infused olive oil.
Determining the Difference Between Flavored and Infused Olive Oils
Similar to how there are differences between wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar, now you know that flavored olive oils are not the same as infused olive oils.
Do not be discouraged from purchasing an olive oil advertised as a unique flavor, though. Rather, be aware of what ingredients are added to the olive oil and how those ingredients are blended in. It’s all about the manufacturing process.
Here at Arlotta Food Studio, we offer six different extra virgin olive oils infused with steam-distilled essential oils from USDA-approved organic fruits and herbs. Our infused olive oils go through a meticulous manufacturing process to ensure you receive a high-quality product that contains all the added benefits of a true infused olive oil.
Order yours today and get ready to elevate your meals with delicious and healthy infused olive oils.