`Scientists Develop Gelatinous Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Italy - Olive Oil Times

Scientists Develop Gelatinous Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Italy

By Paolo DeAndreis
Sep. 15, 2021 09:32 UTC

Gelled extra vir­gin olive oil (EVOO) could soon replace solid sat­u­rated fat and trans fat in many dif­fer­ent food prepa­ra­tions, pro­vid­ing an unsat­u­rated fat alter­na­tive with the organolep­tic and antiox­i­dant prop­er­ties of EVOO.

Researchers have devised a method to trap extra vir­gin olive oil in net­works of self-assem­bled mol­e­cules, find­ing it does not lose its unique qual­i­ties in this form. They also found that those net­works, known as oleoge­la­tors, offer enhanced qual­ity pro­tec­tion for EVOO dur­ing stor­age.

We could take advan­tage of the oleoge­la­tion to pro­tect extra vir­gin olive oil phe­no­lic charge dur­ing stor­age.- Marilisa Alongi, post­doc­toral researcher, University of Udine

We have tested dif­fer­ent extra vir­gin olive oil oleoge­la­tors to under­stand bet­ter how the final prod­uct would per­form,” Marilisa Alongi, a post­doc­toral researcher at the University of Udine’s depart­ment of agri­cul­tural, food, envi­ron­men­tal and ani­mal sci­ences, told Olive Oil Times.

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Bakery prod­ucts, bis­cuits, puff pas­try and crack­ers are some of the appli­ca­tions we have tested,” she added.

Sonia Calligaris, a pro­fes­sor in the same depart­ment at the University of Udine, said that researchers have increas­ingly exper­i­mented with oleoge­la­tion solu­tions over the years.

Currently, researchers are study­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of gelling” Coratina extra vir­gin olive oil to see if the result­ing struc­tured creamy” prod­uct could be used as an alter­na­tive to cer­tain sup­ple­ments and a cook­ing ingre­di­ent.

The oleogel pro­duc­tion process involves heat­ing extra vir­gin olive oil up to 60 ºC or 90 ºC, depend­ing on the fusion tem­per­a­ture of the gelling agent used in the prepa­ra­tion. According to the researchers, extra vir­gin olive oil’s polyphe­nol pro­file did not show sig­nif­i­cant alter­ations dur­ing the process in a con­trolled heat­ing envi­ron­ment.

Capable of keep­ing their struc­ture at room tem­per­a­ture, oleogels self-stand­ing tex­ture var­ied depend­ing on the dif­fer­ent addi­tives used to build the struc­tured net­work.

The result­ing prod­uct was then tested to under­stand what hap­pened to extra vir­gin olive oil qual­ity dur­ing stor­age. The researchers then eval­u­ated the pres­ence of hydrox­y­ty­rosol, tyrosol and alpha-toco­pherol and how these lev­els changed over time in dif­fer­ent stor­age con­di­tions.

In our lab­o­ra­tory process, we have seen a slight decrease in the polyphe­nols, but we already know that it can be eas­ily min­i­mized dur­ing pro­cess­ing so that we could take advan­tage of the oleoge­la­tion to pro­tect extra vir­gin olive oil phe­no­lic charge dur­ing stor­age,” Alongi said. While also deploy­ing its new form which could allow, to make an exam­ple, to spread it on a piece of bread.”

Phenolic com­pounds, when found in spe­cific struc­tured extra vir­gin olive oils, seem to be highly pro­tected by the oxida­tive phe­nom­ena that extra vir­gin olive oil tra­di­tion­ally under­goes,” added Calligaris.

One of the tested oleogels showed higher sta­bil­ity than other oleogels but even more than unstruc­tured extra vir­gin olive oil.

Why this hap­pens and how these pro­tec­tion mech­a­nisms work is some­thing we have to explore fur­ther,” Calligaris added. Our guess is that the com­pounds which con­tribute to build­ing the net­work needed to trap the extra vir­gin olive oil also keep oxy­gen away from it.”

The researchers added that extra vir­gin olive oil gelled prod­ucts are gar­ner­ing inter­est around the olive oil world.

Beyond tex­ture and stor­age, sci­en­tists are research­ing the bioavail­abil­ity of oleogels. The researchers explained that it is pos­si­ble that the gelled net­work could pro­tect extra vir­gin olive oil bioac­tive com­po­nents dur­ing diges­tion, which could enhance their bioavail­abil­ity.

While fur­ther research is planned both in Europe and abroad, the path to the mar­ket of such new prod­ucts will not be sim­ple, the sci­en­tists added.

In Europe, for instance, we have some reg­u­la­tions which define a few lim­i­ta­tions, but the biggest hur­dle is prob­a­bly due to the socio-cul­tural roots of extra vir­gin olive oil,” Calligaris said.

When we talk about EVOO, we talk about a prod­uct with a strong sym­bol­ism and a strong cul­tural con­nec­tion, so inno­va­tion must be intro­duced with the cor­rect approach,” Calligaris and Alongi con­cluded.


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