Studying the composition of olive oil requires cold-press olive oil extraction. One of the most common laboratorial mills is the Abencor system. However, its operation protocol was formulated decades ago for Spanish olive varieties from traditionally rain-fed orchards. We modified this protocol for use with "Barnea" and "Picual" olives from irrigated orchards that are characterized by high water content. Independent effects of malaxation time, temperature, water addition and talc addition on extraction efficiency, and major quality indices of virgin olive oil were studied. Overall, addition of talc to the fruit paste was the most significant treatment in terms of yield and quality of the oil although its effect was cultivar dependent. Improved oil yield was particularly significant for "Picual." Extended malaxation time was also effective in improving oil extractability. Addition of talc generally improved oil-quality parameters, while water addition had the opposite effect. Yet, quality parameters remained within the extra virgin level. Temperature increments reduced oil quality. The need to adapt a modified protocol for use with fruits from irrigated orchards that will facilitate critical comparison of results obtained from different agronomic theses and different laboratories is highlighted. It is recommended that each laboratory develops an appropriate protocol for the operation of the Abencor system in accordance to the characteristics of the olive fruit they are working with. Practical applications: Abencor system serves as the major laboratorial mill world-wide. Those mills allow the researchers to characterize olive oil in accordance to the treatments received by the trees. This cannot be done in commercial mills. The system operation protocol was established decades ago for fruits from rain-fed orchards. In the past decade there was a rapid increase in the use of irrigation in olive orchards and therefore it is crucial to optimize the operation protocol for fruit with relatively high water content. In the current work we have evaluated the influence of a series of technological parameters (i.e., talc and water addition, malaxation time, and temperature) on the extraction efficiency and quality indices of olive oil. This allowed us to present a modified protocol for the Abencor system operation suitable for olive fruit of irrigated orchards that will facilitate a reliable representation of the influence of different treatments on the yield and characteristics of the olive oil.
- Virgin olive oil