Filtered vs Unfiltered Olive Oil – The Truth You Need to Know

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Filtered vs unfiltered olive oil – it might surprise you to know that they often come from the same producers! While there are some obvious differences, it can be hard to tell why these variations exist, and what hidden distinctions might lie beneath the surface.

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That’s why this article is going to examine everything there is to know, step by step. I’ll first be guiding you through all the differences between filtered vs unfiltered olive oil, and the properties that these differences give them. From there, we’ll go straight into comparing them! From cooking to shelf-life, and all the way to nutrition, rest assured that this article has it all covered.

Let’s begin!

Table of Contents

Filtered vs unfiltered olive oil droplets suspended in water with green lighting

The Difference Between Filtered And Unfiltered

To be honest, the driving force between all the differences these oils have is right in the title; filtered and unfiltered. Essentially, both olive oils are the same! Unlike other types of olive oil, these oils have no difference in grade. The only difference is their purity – filtered olive oil is (virtually) completely pure. It’s free of olive pulp and any remaining residues, so it solely contains extracted oil.

Unfiltered olive oil, on the other hand, does include these additions. It has a large quantity of minute ground olive pulp, resulting in a more viscous, cloudy oil. Luckily, these ’olive bits’ aren’t as big as pulp you might be used to from orange juice. This means that the texture of the oil is the same, but the viscosity is increased.

If you’re familiar with the variation in oil grades, you may be wondering what differentiates unfiltered extra virgin olive oil from low-grade pomace oil.

While they both involve the olive pulp in production, pomace oil is made from only the residues and pulp remaining after producing higher grade olive oil. This differs from unfiltered extra virgin olive oil as the oil is usually from the first few presses, and so is of a higher grade.

The only difference from regular extra virgin olive is that it isn’t filtered. This means that its much higher in quality pomace oil, and has a different appearance, taste, and smoke point.

So, now that we know the major differences between filtered and unfiltered extra virgin olive oil, what are their specific properties?

Filtered vs unfiltered extra virgin olive oil in a cup next to Italian herbs, all resting on a white table stone

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Filtered vs Unfiltered

In the table below, I’ve listed some of the benefits and cons of these oils, as well as some general information on their characteristics.

Filtered Extra Virgin Olive Oil Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Low smoke point
Readily available at most grocery stores
Strong translucent greenish-yellow color
Said to be milder/not have as many fruity undertones as unfiltered
Slightly lower content of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory agents
Has a long shelf life
Low smoke point
Usually only available from specialty stores
Cloudy/opaque yellowish-green color
Said to have a stronger taste/fruitier flavor than filtered
Higher content of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory agents
Has a short shelf life

Next, we’re going to be examining and comparing how these oils – and their attributes – perform in different settings.

Comparing Oils

Filtered And Unfiltered Olive Oil For Cooking

While any extra virgin olive oil is bound to be flavorful, filtered olive oil will retain slightly less flavor than unfiltered. The olive taste is more toned down and subtle, but still powerful enough to make it an excellent contribution to dressings and finishings. Unfiltered olive oil, on the other hand, is even more powerful – use this oil if you’re certain you want a strong olive flavor – and be careful not to let it overpower your dish!

Shelf Life Of Filtered vs Unfiltered Olive Oil

This video by YouTube user Ethan Chlebowski has works as an excellent visual guide on why the shelf life between these two oils vary. At 02:50, he demonstrates the impact that fatty acids can have on olive oil.

While fatty acids are desired in olive oil, when unstable (like in lower grade oils) it is liable to cause oxidization. Oxidization is – across all olive oils – the driving factor behind your olive oil turning rancid. However, the fault for unfiltered olive oil’s shorter shelf life in particular lies elsewhere.

The reason unfiltered olive oil has a short shelf life is actually due to the content of fruit pulp within the oil. Because of the high amount of moisture in pulped fruit, unfiltered olive oil is far more susceptible to fermentation. This means it takes much less time to go rancid as it has more opportunity to ferment.

Comparing Oils – Nutrition

Unfiltered vs Filtered Olive Oil Nutrition Table

NutrientsUnfiltered extra virgin olive oil Extra virgin olive oil
Calories110.4110.4
Sodium, Na0 mg0 mg
Protein0 g0 g
Total Fat12.88 g12.88 g
Saturated FA1.84 g1.84 g
Monounsaturated FA9.20 g9.20 g
Polyunsaturated FA 1.38 g1.38 g
Total trans FA0 g0 g
Carbohydrates0 g0 g
CholesterolN/A0 m
Per 1 tbsp, both olive oils are Whole Foods’ own brand

Unfiltered vs Filtered Olive Oil Health Benefits

Because unfiltered olive oil is richer in antioxidants, many say that its healthier than its filtered counterpart. However, this depends on how much oil you’re actually using.

As unfiltered olive oil has a shorter shelf life, lower smoke point, and doesn’t suit all dishes, it can be quite incompatible with some people’s lifestyles. Unless you’re consuming unfiltered olive oil as regularly as you use the filtered kind, its unlikely to make much difference.

olive oil pouring

FAQs

Which Is Better Filtered Or Unfiltered Olive Oil?

Again, this is another one of those questions that truly depends on your opinion and needs. Filtered olive oil may not be as flavorful, but that has its advantages in certain scenarios. Likewise, it’s long shelf life speaks to it’s convenience. However, some may simply prefer the fruity flavor of unfiltered olive oil above all and enjoy it in completely different ways.

Is There a Difference Between Filtered and Unfiltered Olive Oil?

These oils have no difference in grade. The only difference is their purity. Filtered olive oil is more pure. It’s free of olive pulp and any remaining residues, so it solely contains extracted oil.
Unfiltered olive oil, on the other hand, does include these additions, resulting in a more viscous, cloudy oil.

Filtered Or Unfiltered Olive Oil?

Whichever you prefer, I hope that this article has helped clear up all your queries!

Read more on olive oil on the blog:

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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