` Researchers Look at Cyperus as an Olive Oil Substitute - Olive Oil Times

Researchers Look at Cyperus as an Olive Oil Substitute

Feb. 22, 2011
Christian Brazil Bautista

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Egypt, which imports most of its olive oil, may cut its depen­dence on other coun­tries through har­vest­ing the indige­nous Cyperus escu­len­tus plant. A local researcher advo­cates the cul­ti­va­tion of the plant, say­ing that doing so would help the coun­try and the rest of the Middle East decrease cook­ing oil imports and find some use for desert land.

The Cyperus plant, which is already being grown in the coun­try for its edi­ble seeds, has been pro­posed as a sub­sti­tute for olive oil because of its sim­i­lar taste and smell.

According to a study con­ducted at the El Minia University in Egypt, the oil from Cyperus is more than two-thirds oleic acid, about the same con­tent as olive oil. The oleic acid in Cyperus makes it less prone to break­ing down.

The plant, which is also being looked at as a poten­tial source for bio­fu­els, may enable the olive oil pro­cess­ing indus­try to keep going even dur­ing the off-sea­son. Arij Salama, the author of the research, tested the taste and smell of Cyperus oil with 200 olive oil con­sumers. The result showed that the two are almost iden­ti­cal.

In an inter­view with the Science and Development Network, Ahmed Khorshied, a researcher at the Food Technology Research Institute in Cairo, said, Cyperus seeds con­tain up to 23 per­cent of oil. Cyperus can be planted in deserts, as it does not need clay soil or fer­tilis­ers. It also tol­er­ates the salin­ity of the land and the lack of water.”

Olive oil extrac­tion indus­tries work only dur­ing the olive har­vest­ing sea­son, because olives are not a har­vest that can be stored, so these indus­tries could extract Cyperus oil in other sea­sons.”

Cyperus pro­duces between 1.8 and 3 tonnes of seeds per hectare,” he added, say­ing that the tech­nique for extract­ing Cyperus oil is sim­i­lar to that of olive oil.

In an inter­view with the Science and Development Network, Noumany Nasr, the vice pres­i­dent of the Egyptian General Authority for Supply Commodities, said that his agency would explore the find­ings. However, he warns that con­sumers in Egypt do not read­ily embrace new prod­ucts so mak­ing the study rec­om­men­da­tions applic­a­ble will take a long time.”

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