`Melgarejo’s Bid for Even Healthier Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Olive Oil Times

Melgarejo’s Bid for Even Healthier Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Nov. 5, 2013
Julie Butler

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 Melgarejo’s Bid for Even Healthier Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Blas Melgarejo

How do you otpimize the health­ful­ness of extra vir­gin olive oil? That’s one of the main focuses this sea­son of Jaén’s Aceites Campoliva, mak­ers of Melgarejo olive oils.

Extra vir­gin olive oil is inher­ently a health­ier fat because of its high pro­por­tion of monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids. But which vari­ables — at the farm or fac­tory — affect the con­tent of the var­i­ous minor com­pounds in it that also pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant health ben­e­fits?

With har­vest­ing under­way in the company’s plan­ta­tions in the Sierra Mágina moun­tain range, pro­duc­tion and qual­ity direc­tor Blas Melgarejo said his research was inten­si­fy­ing in a bid to answer those ques­tions.

Hydroxytyrosol, beta-carotene, alpha-toco­pherol and squa­lene

We are par­tic­u­larly inter­ested in com­pounds from the unsaponifi­able frac­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil, the most impor­tant being hydrox­y­ty­rosol (antiox­io­dant) , beta-carotene (vit­a­min A) , alpha — toco­pherol (vit­a­min E ) and squa­lene (said to be an antiox­i­dant and anti-can­cer agent).

The vari­ables we believe are the most impor­tant in this regard are agro­nomic ones such as the ratio of flesh to pit in the olive fruit, matu­rity rates, the alti­tude of the olive trees, and the soil com­po­si­tion.”

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And when it comes to pro­cess­ing, the con­di­tions dur­ing the crush­ing of the olives and then the malax­a­tion of the paste (which allows small oil droplets to com­bine into big­ger ones) are also impor­tant when try­ing to obtain the max­i­mum amount of these impor­tant com­po­nents,” he said.

To add to the chal­lenge, the com­pany uses four dif­fer­ent olive vari­eties — Picual, Hojiblanca, Arbequina and Frantoio — each dif­fer­ent in its sen­sory and and chem­i­cal pro­files.

Consumer demand

The com­pany has already worked for many years on increas­ing the sen­sory qual­ity of its extra vir­gin olive oils, par­tic­u­larly to increase the quan­tity and qual­ity of their fruiti­ness while also deliv­er­ing oils that are organolep­ti­cally bal­anced but com­plex. No pro­ducer won more medals than Melgarejo’s four at the New York International Olive Oil Competition.

Melgarejo said it was now also focus­ing on increas­ing the health­ful­ness in response to con­sumer demand, par­tic­u­larly in new mar­kets.

profiles-world-olive-oil-times-melgarejo
Photo: Dieline

In all emerg­ing mar­kets for high qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oils, con­sumers see this prod­uct as attrac­tive both for its health ben­e­fits and its culi­nary ver­sa­til­ity. Consumers are not just look­ing to enjoy won­der­ful fla­vors and aro­mas… they seek a healthy oil to use in their daily diet.

It is for this rea­son that sea­son after sea­son our chal­lenge is to increase the health and nutri­tional ben­e­fits of our prod­ucts,” he said.

Exceptional har­vest expected

Production of the new sea­son oils started a few weeks ago and Melgarejo — who said he is thus work­ing all night and sleep­ing dur­ing the day — antic­i­pates an excel­lent har­vest in both quan­tity and qual­ity.”

Unlike in some other parts of the province of Jaén, where the olives are matur­ing later than usual, he said the abun­dant rain­fall through­out the year and mod­er­ate sum­mer tem­per­a­tures have allowed the fruit to mature in a nor­mal way here.”

Everything seems to indi­cate that we are in line for an excep­tional sea­son,” he said.

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