Phenols, free fatty acids, peroxide, triacylglycerols (TAG), diacylglycerols (DAG), and
monoacylglycerols (MAG), thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), Pheophytin A and
chlorophyll and many other substances make up olive oil. Following is the abstract of a Journal of
the American Oil Chemist Society which describes many of the volatile substances. Contact American
Oil Chemists' Society (AOCS) for full article (or the author).
Flavor Components of Olive Oil--A Review, A.K. Kiritsakis*, Department of Food Technology,
School of Food Technology and Nutrition, Technological Educational Institution (TEI) of Thessaloniki,
Sindos Thessaloniki, Greece.
The unique and delicate flavor of olive oil is attributed to a number of volatile
components. Aldehydes, alcohols, esters, hydrocarbons, ketones, furans, and other
compounds have been quantitated and identified by gas chromatographymass
spectrometry in good-quality olive oil. The presence of flavor compounds in olive oil is
closely related to its sensory quality. Hexanal, trans-2-hexenal, 1-hexanol, and
3-methylbutan-1-ol are the major volatile compounds of olive oil. Volatile flavor
compounds are formed in the olive fruit through an enzymatic process. Olive cultivar,
origin, maturity stage of fruit, storage conditions of fruit, and olive fruit processing
influence the flavor components of olive oil and therefore its taste and aroma. The
components octanal, nonanal, and 2-hexenal, as well as the volatile alcohols propanol,
amyl alcohols, 2-hexenol, 2-hexanol, and heptanol, characterize the olive cultivar. There
are some slight changes in the flavor components in olive oil obtained from the same oil
cultivar grown in different areas. The highest concentration of volatile components
appears at the optimal maturity stage of fruit. During storage of olive fruit, volatile flavor
components, such as aldehydes and esters, decrease. Phenolic compounds also have a
significant effect on olive oil flavor. There is a good correlation between aroma and
flavor of olive oil and its polyphenol content. Hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, caffeic acid,
coumaric acid, and p-hydroxybenzoic acid influence mostly the sensory characteristics of
olive oil. Hydroxytyrosol is present in good-quality olive oil, while tyrosol and some
phenolic acids are found in olive oil of poor quality. Various off-flavor compounds are
formed by oxidation, which may be initiated in the olive fruit. Pentanal, hexanal, octanal,
and nonanal are the major compounds formed in oxidized olive oil, but 2-pentenal and
2-heptenal are mainly responsible for the off-flavor.
JAOCS 75, 673681 (1998).
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