Extra Virgin Olive Oil Makes Good Pizza Even Better, Researchers Find

A new study shows that olive oil has a significant sensory and chemical effect on Neapolitan pizza.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Jan. 30, 2023 15:18 UTC

New research pub­lished in the jour­nal Foods has found that adding extra vir­gin olive oil as a top­ping to the iconic Neapolitan Pizza might impact its qual­ity.

The study’s authors focused on the Neapolitan Pizza TSG (“Traditional Status Guaranteed”). This E.U.-certified sta­tus stan­dard­izes the ingre­di­ents used and the pro­duc­tion process involved in mak­ing the pizza.

According to the paper, dif­fer­ent extra vir­gin olive oils (EVOOs) leave their own mark on the piz­zas. The research assessed some of the effects on the chem­i­cal and sen­sory char­ac­ter­is­tics of the fin­ished prod­uct.

As described by the Qualigeo asso­ci­a­tion, Pizza Napoletana TSG is an oven-baked round prod­uct with high bor­ders (crust) and a cen­tral top­ping. The dough is made with soft wheat flour, brewer’s yeast, water and salt.”

The Neapolitan Pizza TSG may come in two ver­sions, Margherita or Marinara. Extra vir­gin olive oil is a cru­cial top­ping for both vari­eties.

See Also:In Naples, Pairing Pizza with Local EVOOs

According to the sci­en­tists, assess­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of EVOO will reduce the like­li­hood that some of the piz­za’s ingre­di­ents will be replaced.

There is a risk of a gen­eral decrease in the qual­ity of food pro­duc­tion, includ­ing pizza, linked to the choice of adopt­ing dif­fer­ent and lower-cost ingre­di­ents in a global mar­ket in which Made in Italy’ foods are still highly suc­cess­ful and appre­ci­ated,” they wrote.

In the study, three dif­fer­ent olive oils were tested. One was a lower-grade refined olive oil, the sec­ond was a com­mer­cial extra vir­gin olive oil, and the third was a high-qual­ity mono­va­ri­etal EVOO pro­duced by Ottobratica cul­ti­var olives.

The three piz­zas were ana­lyzed before and after oven cook­ing. Free acid­ity, per­ox­ide num­ber, and spec­tropho­to­met­ric indices were used to assess the olive oil sam­ples.

Extensive analy­ses were also con­ducted on all of the piz­zas’ top­pings. Olive oil was mixed with the other ingre­di­ents, such as toma­toes, to assess oxi­da­tion, polyphe­nols pres­ence and other fac­tors.

Both EVOOs scored bet­ter than the refined olive oil. The analy­sis also revealed that the EVOOs’ antiox­i­dants pro­tect the toma­toes dur­ing cook­ing.

On top of that, a panel test of twelve trained judges con­ducted a blind sen­sory analy­sis right after cook­ing. The three dif­fer­ent kinds of piz­zas were tasted in ran­dom order.

The analy­sis has shown a higher qual­ity taste pro­file for the pizza made with Ottobratica EVOO, which scored sig­nif­i­cantly higher in over­all fla­vor, tomato taste and the bal­ance between olive oil and the other ingre­di­ents.

The sci­en­tists asso­ci­ated the Ottobratica results with its higher nutri­tional and antiox­i­dant con­tents, which impacted the pizza’s nutri­tional pro­file and improved its fla­vors.


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