New Production Technology Improves Olive Oil Quality

High vacuum-assisted extraction technologies improved the healthy characteristics of extra virgin olive oil while also decreasing sensory defects, according to new research from the University of Perugia.

Italian scientists have found that under certain conditions the polyphenol content of the extra virgin olive oil can be increased up to 48 percent when using the high vacuum-assisted extraction technologies.

A reduction in the content of volatile compounds, which are responsible for creating flavor defects in olive oils, was also observed.

“Our experiments in the first phase of the research brought us to evaluate the impact of the high vacuum-assisted extraction on both the sensorial profile and the health properties profile of olive paste and oil,” Gianluca Veneziani, a researcher at the university and one of the authors of the study told Olive Oil Times.

The research, published in the journal Food Chemistry, was conducted using three different cultivars – Moraiolo, Coratina and Peranzana – and showed different results for each one of the cultivars.

“We have noticed an increase in the phenolic compounds that varied approximately between 20 and 48 percent,” Veneziani said.

“As our team noted in a previous study when you introduce a technology that it is going to intervene on the cellular structure of a fruit, the outcome is heavily dependent on its own genetics.”

He added that while some cultivars might already tend to produce high quantities of polyphenols, some others “might enjoy a little help” in reaching those high levels. Elevated levels of polyphenols are generally associated with high-quality extra virgin olive oil.

The other goal of the study was to observe the impact of the high vacuum-assisted extraction technologies on the content of volatile compounds, a crucial aspect of the research due to the impact of these compounds on the flavor and quality of extra virgin olive oil.

The researchers found that lower temperatures during malaxation led to a lowered stripping efficiency in the extracting process. This means that the compounds responsible for negatively affecting the flavor of the extra virgin olive oil decreased as a function of lower operating temperatures.

“We also observed the reduction of some volatile molecules we could consider negative, such as ethanol, ethyl acetate and acetic acid,” Veneziani said. “Those are responsible for minor defects of olive oil but the stripping of these specific molecules has shown to be very efficient, reducing them much more than what might happen to positive contents. A result that is probably due to the cellular structure of those compounds.” More