& NATURAL CHARACTERISTICS
STUDY OF CHEMICAL AND NATURAL CHARACTERISTICS OF EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Complete Study for Improved Quality and
Characterisation of the Product
Individual or Group Courses for Olive Oil Tasting
according to the Norms of the International Olive Oil Council (Qualified
International Panel Supervisor)
Systems and Machinery for
Pressing and Extraction.
The Study of Influences of
different Systems and Machinery on the Olive Oil Quality
for adjusting the characteristics of Final Product.
Functional Solution for different Systems and Machinery
Planing for New Olive Oil
Mills (Frantoio) or Restructuring of the already Existing Mills.
At this stage it is important to point out that each variety produces a "monocultivar" oil generally characterised by a marked organoleptic typicality, in other words by its own specific taste, also influenced by the pressing and extraction systems utilised.
While still in Tuscany, we should also point out for example, that the oil of the Leccino variety tends to be "sweeter" in comparison to that of the Frantoio variety, which is instead more "fruity", and also more "pungent" and "bitter".
Fruitiness, bitterness, pungency, sweetness represent the most important sensory attributes of olive oil and may vary considerably depending on the cultivars (in Tuscany alone approximately 80 have been identified up to date).
Moreover, these varieties often present very marked differences, also deriving from their ripening periods.
The Leccino for example, is a precocious variety while the Moraiolo, another classic Tuscan cultivar, is a late ripener. In a modern and rational olive growing business it is most important to divide the various cultivars into sectors in order to be able carry out a differentiated picking in line with the ripening, and thus obtain perfect mono-variety oils with different characteristics, after which it will be the olive oil producer's responsibility to formulate the most appropriate mixtures according to the company's requirements.
Consequently, you must also keep these organoleptic diversities in mind when planning a new system, as well as evaluate the markets demands and trends, in striving for a product "typicality", increasingly more important for leaving the masses behind and creating your own commercial strategy. For this purpose it is essential for only olive saplings of certain origin to be purchased, even better if certified
and guaranteed both from a genetic and phyopathological point of view. Despite their higher unitary costs, the precocious entering into production, constant productivity, and specific genetic characteristics like higher resistance to natural adversities of certain "clones", will more than repay the careful olive grower.
The final organoleptic characteristics of olive oil (in other words, the flavour), are the result of various factors:
the production ecosystem (soil, altitude, climate), the olive varieties (and their degree of ripening), and lastly, the pressing and extracting techniques. Likewise with the ecosystem and variety, by intervening on the pressing and extracting techniques, the organoleptic profile of a product can be radically altered.
The main olive transforming phases are as follows:
Washing and ventilating: to remove leaves and impurities.
Pressing: mechanical pressing of the olives.
Kneading: homogenisation of the paste obtained.
Extraction: of the liquid part (mixture of water and oil) from the solid part (olive residues).
Separation: of the oil from the vegetation water.
The pressing system in particular (meaning the different mechanical pressing methods), that the olive skin, pulp and stone are subjected to has the greatest effect on the organoleptic profile of the oil.
Stone Muller and Rollers: exalt the Sweetness and the Yellow-gold colour
Hammer press: exalt the Bitterness and the Green-gold colour
Cogged disc press: exalt the Pungency and the Brilliant green colour
The Extraction phase is also a determining factor with regard to the organoleptic profile and may be of the following types:
Traditional: or by pressure with a fiscoli press.
Modern: or centrifuge with decanter.
Sinolea: or by percolation and double extraction.
Very different results are obtained from each of these
systems, with respect to both the chemical and organoleptic characteristics
and also the density and appearance of the product. With the modern
kneading-decanter systems we can also intervene with other parameters
like kneading times, temperature of the paste, and percentage of water
added in the decanter, all relevant in our quest for the highest
On summing up this brief description about how transformation techniques
can greatly influence the final "flavour" of the product,
and on the basis of my experience and experimentation with almost every
type of mono-variety oil system in existence for the major Tuscan
I wish to point out how even the different oil-producing machinery manufacturers
contribute towards the characterisation to the product. To be more precise,
if we use the same crop of olives and the same type of machinery, produced
however by different manufacturers, we often obtain completely different
The technical themes described above are of quite recent acquisition and still in the process of being studied and analysed by the most important researchers and experts in this sector, however, from all this it appears clear that the variables regarding the differentiation and research for the highest product quality are many and varied.
The careful producer, by starting out with a specific ecosystem, can intervene on the varieties, targeting the ones that are most suited to his own type of product. Lastly, by choosing the most appropriate transformation system (and most suitable manufacturer), he will be able to exalt certain characteristics and tone down others, for the purpose of highlighting the aftertastes and hidden aromas, and thus be able to perfect his own product in his quest for the best possible commercial strategy.
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