`New Twist on Traditional Olive Press - Olive Oil Times

New Twist on Traditional Olive Press

Sep. 25, 2012
Julie Butler

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A Spanish com­pany has devel­oped what it claims to be a break­through inno­va­tion” for the ancient olive press that makes an olive oil higher in antiox­i­dants and leaves no envi­ron­men­tally harm­ful waste.

According to a patent appli­ca­tion by the com­pany behind the project, Oleapure, its inven­tion allows two direc­tions of force to be applied within a hydraulic press — instead of the usual one — thus sub­stan­tially increas­ing its effi­ciency and rais­ing the con­tent of active com­po­nents ben­e­fi­cial to health, such as hydrox­y­ty­rosol, tyrosol, caf­feic acid and oleo­can­thal.

From Seville, Oleapure sci­en­tific advi­sor Dr. Rafael de Lara told Olive Oil Times the new method pro­duced an olive oil, Oleaster, which the com­pany esti­mates to be nearly a third higher in antiox­i­dants than most exist­ing extra vir­gin olive oils, depend­ing on the olive vari­ety.

Compression favors antiox­i­dant con­tent

De Lara, a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal chemist, said using a tra­di­tional press like the Romans used for olive oil was like mak­ing orange juice by squeez­ing an orange then strain­ing out the juice. The now dom­i­nant decanter cen­trifuge process was like crush­ing the orange then spin­ning out the juice.

He said the company’s research sug­gested that the com­pres­sion of olives in a tra­di­tional press — and to a greater degree in the Oleapure inven­tion — allowed more of the phe­no­lic com­pounds in the fruit’s flesh (the meso­carp) to bind with the oil glob­ules than occurred with cen­trifu­gal sys­tems, where the free oil Is sep­a­rated imme­di­ately. These com­pounds are key to the antiox­i­dant capac­ity and sen­sory qual­ity of the result­ing oil.

New olive prod­ucts

De Lara said Oleaster could be the basis for a new pre­mium cat­e­gory of olive oil. It has quite a strong taste — though this varies accord­ing to the olive vari­eties used — but would appeal as a health and gourmet prod­uct.

A byprod­uct of the new method was an olive juice con­tain­ing no oil that is used to make a new con­cen­trated extract, Oleasan. This yet-to-be-defined” prod­uct is also rich in antiox­i­dants highly prized in the health food and cos­metic indus­tries.

Waste min­i­miza­tion the mother of inven­tion

De Lara said he could not yet give more details about the press design except that it was an indus­trial secret involv­ing direc­tional sequen­tial com­pres­sion.” The hydraulic bi-direc­tional press has been a break­through for us” he said.

Though con­cep­tu­ally sim­ple, it involves engi­neer­ing not avail­able on the mar­ket. After suc­cess­ful tri­als of a pilot press a demon­stra­tion model is now being built in Seville and should be ready within a year.

De Lara said the design was fruit of ear­lier work on reduc­ing the amount of olive oil pro­duc­tion efflu­ent — alpechín in Spanish — which has been a major envi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tant in Spain, par­tic­u­larly in Seville’s Guadaíra river val­ley.

Though more of a prob­lem under what is known as the three-phase decanter cen­trifuge sys­tem, even the cleaner two phase sys­tem, which now pre­dom­i­nates in Spain, pro­duces some waste­water con­tain­ing oil.

Among the dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing fac­tors of the new process are that its only waste prod­ucts – olive skin, stones and some pulp — are envi­ron­men­tally inert and can be re-used, such as for fuel in the case of the stone remains, de Lara said.

Oleapure — which is seek­ing part­ners to take the project for­ward — boasts on its web­site that in com­par­i­son with cur­rent meth­ods, its deliv­ers a higher qual­ity olive oil with the same yield and pro­duc­tions costs” and zero residue.”

Health claims under eval­u­a­tion

University researchers form­ing part of a joint pri­vate-pub­lic project with fund­ing from the Spanish gov­ern­ment are now eval­u­at­ing Oleaster and Oleasan and their poten­tial health ben­e­fits.

At the University Pablo de Olavide, sci­en­tists are study­ing the prod­ucts’ con­tent of polyphe­nols, such as resver­a­trol, and of antiox­i­dants, includ­ing coen­zyme Q10, vit­a­min C and vit­a­min E, and the impact of their inges­tion by mice.

We’ll have to wait until the end of the project in 2013 to know if we have a new olive oil that is much health­ier and offers increased antiox­i­dant and anti-inflam­ma­tory capac­ity and improves lipid and pro­teomic pro­files,” the uni­ver­sity said in a press release.

Meanwhile, researchers in the phar­ma­col­ogy depart­ment of the University of Seville are eval­u­at­ing the prod­ucts’ car­dio­vas­cu­lar ben­e­fits and poten­tial use for hyper­ten­sion and ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis.

At the European Atherosclerosis Society Congress held in Italy in May, sci­en­tists from that uni­ver­sity pre­sented a poster titled New extra vir­gin olive oil (Oleaster®) or olive waste­waters extract (Oleasan) improved endothe­lial dys­func­tion and ath­er­o­scle­rotic plaques of ApoE mice.”


University Pablo de Olavide press release (in Spanish)
Congress poster abstract, University of Seville Department of Pharmacology

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