The quality of olive oil is not only dependent on the importance of the cultivar, but also in the transformation, transport and milling phase in the oil mill, where the short chain of oil becomes indispensable for obtaining a high quality product.
The harvesting phase is a crucial moment for the transformation of the olives into a high quality extra virgin olive oil. Not only must the right period for harvesting be established, but the short chain of oil becomes central in order to be able to transport the olives to the mill by limiting the fermentation of the olives.
It is critical to establish the right time of harvest to control polyphenols.
Identifying the right time for the olive harvest is of paramount importance to control the rate of polyphenols present in the olive, and therefore in the oil.
If the harvest is anticipated, there is a risk of picking olives that have not yet reached full maturity, with a relapse on the yield and above all with a lower contribution of organoleptic substances, such as polyphenols.
Polyphenols are natural organic molecules that give, among other things, the characteristic bitter taste and bitter aftertaste that distinguishes good quality oil. They also have antioxidant properties and therefore constitute a good natural preservative for the oil.
Anticipating the harvest means picking the olive when the polyphenol level has not reached its maximum peak, but also a delay in the harvest tends to depress the finished product. The polyphenols in fact, once reaching a peak at the moment of maturation, tend to decrease. This makes the oil produced with overripe olives, drained and devoid of its bitter taste.
The short chain of oil will contain acidity. But the most important aspect for making use of a short chain in the production of oil is the close relationship between harvesting and milling in the oil mill.
Once picked, the olives undergo a natural oxidation process whereby the water contained in the external membrane comes into contact with the oil contained in the internal membrane of the olive. This produces an increase in temperature and the consequential loss of nutritional properties.
This process also increases the degree of acidity present in the oil which, in order to define itself as extra virgin, must not exceed the value of 0.8gr for every 100 grams of oil. A low acidity also improves the digestibility of the oil, increasing its quality.
The short oil supply chain must then set up a production network in which the olives must be able to reach the mill for crushing on the same day of the harvest, so that the entire baggage of nutrients present in the olive can be transferred to the finished product.