` In Land of Milk and Honey, Distaste for Bitter and Pungent EVOO


In Land of Milk and Honey, Distaste for Bitter and Pungent EVOO

Jan. 13, 2015
By Sukhsatej Batra

Recent News

Amer­i­cans are not the only con­sumers who dis­like the bit­ter­ness of high qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil. Vis­i­tors at Gourmesse, a pop­u­lar trade fair in Zurich, who eval­u­ated 140 sam­ples, pre­ferred EVOOs with a ripe, fruity, and sweet taste over those which were more pun­gent and bit­ter.

The study, reported in the Jour­nal of the Sci­ence of Food and Agri­cul­ture, inves­ti­gated the over­all pref­er­ence of EVOOs by vis­i­tors to the fair. Eighty per­cent of the par­tic­i­pants were from Switzer­land; deep in but­ter coun­try to be sure, but a place where the Mediter­ranean diet has a small foothold.

The 140 EVOO sam­ples tested for con­sumer accep­tance were par­tic­i­pat­ing at the Inter­na­tional Olive Oil Award in Zurich. More than half of these sam­ples, 74 to be exact, came from Italy, while 43 were from Spain, and the rest were from Greece, Por­tu­gal, and Turkey.

The Swiss Olive Oil Panel con­ducted sen­sory analy­sis of the sam­ples and cat­e­go­rized 7 per­cent as good, 58 per­cent as very good and 45 per­cent of them as excel­lent, in terms of their fla­vor and sen­sory qual­ity. Over­all, the expert pan­elists clas­si­fied all the EVOOs to be of high qual­ity and with­out any defect.

Con­sumers at the fair, con­sid­ered more knowl­edge­able of gourmet foods than aver­age, eval­u­ated the EVOO sam­ples using a nine-point hedo­nic scale to indi­cate their pref­er­ence.


Sur­pris­ingly, the con­sumers liked only 19 per­cent of all the sam­ples eval­u­ated, exhibit­ing a dis­tinct dif­fer­ence in expec­ta­tion and inter­pre­ta­tion of EVOO qual­ity from the Swiss Olive Oil Panel.

The vis­i­tors, 51 per­cent male and 49 per­cent female, had a clear pref­er­ence for the ripe, fruity, and sweet EVOOs and dis­liked the bit­ter, pun­gent, and green fruity taste of high qual­ity sam­ples.

Phe­no­lic com­pounds are respon­si­ble for the bit­ter­ness and pun­gency of extra vir­gin olive oil. They are also the com­pounds related to the health ben­e­fits asso­ci­ated with con­sump­tion of olive oil.

The authors con­cluded that con­sumers are unfa­mil­iar with the pos­i­tive sen­sory attrib­utes, and the asso­ci­ated health ben­e­fits, of high qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil that has a bit­ter and pun­gent taste.

Con­sumers in the United States also had an aver­sion to the bit­ter and pun­gent taste of high qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oils, accord­ing to a UC Davis study.

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