`The Next Revolution in Olive Oil Production - Olive Oil Times

The Next Revolution in Olive Oil Production

May. 16, 2014
Julie Butler

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A dra­matic decrease in time and energy needed in the mill is likely to be the next big change in olive oil pro­duc­tion, pre­dicts one expert.

Agustí Romero

While the pro­lif­er­a­tion of super high den­sity (SHD) olive groves was arguably the most sig­nif­i­cant shift in the last decade, Agustí Romero says it’s the malax­a­tion process – whereby the droplets of oil in crushed olives group together – that’s now des­tined for a rev­o­lu­tion.

Part of the olive oil research team at IRTA, the Catalan agri­cul­ture, food and aqua­cul­ture research insti­tute, and an Olive Japan 2014 judge, Romero told Olive Oil Times that much of today’s research focuses on how to make milling more effi­cient, and par­tic­u­larly on this step, which is very long and uses a lot of energy.”

In the next few years we are going to see very big changes in milling and the news is that we are going to avoid the malax­a­tion process by using ultra­sound or other new tech­nol­ogy that is faster and more energy effi­cient,” he said.

The idea is to induce some move­ment inside the crushed mass of olives to force the small drops of oil to move together and you can do that by malax­a­tion or by ultra­sound, pulses or microwave. Any new tech­nique that gets the droplets mov­ing could be use­ful. For exam­ple, some are exper­i­ment­ing with pass­ing the olive paste through long screws, which is called flash malax­ing.”

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Romero said researchers in Spain, such as at IRTA in Catalonia and the IFAPA in Andalusia, as well as in Italy and other parts of the world, are test­ing such alter­na­tives to malax­a­tion.

And any such change to this process, may ini­tially imply a lot of small changes in the final vir­gin olive oil,” Romero said, because if it takes less time and the tem­per­a­ture is clearly lower, some minor com­po­nents – such as sterols, polyphe­nols, pig­ments, alka­nes and alchohols – in the olive mass that now move into the oil at a cer­tain ratio may instead do it at a dif­fer­ent one. So maybe the oil and its prop­er­ties will change a lit­tle and we’ll need to address that.”

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