Olive oil is a liquid fat obtained from olives, a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin, produced by pressing whole olives and extracting the oil. Olive oil is the most common vegetable oil. It is commonly used in cooking, for frying foods or as a salad dressing. It is also used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps, and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps, and has additional uses in some religions. The olive is one of three core food plants in Mediterranean cuisine; the other two are wheat and grapes.
The composition of olive oil varies with the cultivar, altitude, time of harvest and extraction process. It consists mainly of oleic acid (up to 83%), with smaller amounts of other fatty acids including linoleic acid (up to 21%) and palmitic acid (up to 20%).
Extra virgin olive oil is required to have no more than 0.8% free acidity and is considered to have favorable flavor characteristics.