Understanding Processing Aids for use in Olive Oil Production

In this article, I refer many times to Commercial Growers as I receive many queries from Small to Medium growers and processors who often wonder how the larger companies can achieve accelerated & consistent results.  Below are some tips to help improve the qualitative and quantitative results of olive oil processing.

Nowadays, it is common practice for the Commercial Olive Grower to use aids in the olive oil production process.  Some of the more common aids are Pectolytic Enzymes and Talc.

Enzymes:  Why Enzymes?

Enzymes are found in all living organisms.  Even olive fruit contains enzymes.

Naturally occurring or endogenous Pectolytic Enzymes are responsible for the gradual ripening of olive fruit causing it to become softer (i.e. breaking down the structural components).

In unripe fruit, pectin is present but in an insoluble form called protopectin.  As the fruit ripens, then pectolytic enzymes break down the pectin to more soluble forms.

However, it is interesting that this natural process can be sped up by adding the appropriate industrial pectolytic enzymes.  During the time of ripening fruit throughout the season, you notice that the flesh changes throughout this time and hence changes the extractability of the paste structure during processing.  Using enzymes allows the paste to be broken down into a form that can be extracted easier.  Typically, you find as a direct result, that polyphenol levels are increased, filterability is improved because the breakdown of the paste is more complete (i.e. more enzymes to work the paste in a quicker time frame).  In most cases, many processors have reported an increased throughput through their processing equipment because the layering inside the decanter is more clearly defined and the speed can be increased.

Some of the results obtained by Commercial Processors using enzymes (in accordance with instructions of use) can be more prominent in particular varieties of fruit.  However, there is a benefit to using enzymes in all processing.

You need to make sure that the type of Enzyme that you are using has been proven with use in olives.  A proven enzyme is Novozymes Pectinex Ultra SP-L (proven on Australian fruit, processed in Australia).

I believe Enzymes are one of the most important aids to manufacturing of olive oil to achieving desired results.

Find out more about Enzymes

Find out about Talc

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