Effect of region of cultivation, tree age, and harvest time on the quality of Lebanese virgin olive oil

Main Article Content

Antonio El Chami
Paola Conte
Georges Hassoun
Antonio Piga

Keywords

adult trees, ancient trees, harvest date, Lebanon, region of cultivation, virgin olive oil

Abstract

In Lebanon, olive oil plays an essential role at both economic and social levels. However, factors influencing its quality are rarely addressed. This preliminary study is the first analysis to show a comparison between ancient and adult virgin olive oil trees in Lebanon. Analysis of pedo-climatic conditions and physicochemical parameters of virgin oil samples taken from ancient and adult trees from three Lebanese regions (Bechmizine, Kfaraaka, and Kawkaba) and at two different harvest periods showed that these parameters differed significantly among cultivation regions, while the tree age and harvest time had a lower effect. We observed that the oil obtained from adult trees of Kawkaba region during the first harvest period (green to reddish stage of fruit maturity) had the best quality, compared to all other samples. Oil produced from these trees showed the highest polyphenol content, a relatively higher composition of tocopherols, oleic acid, monounsaturated fatty acids, and trans fatty acids C18: 1–C18: 2, with relatively low acidity and peroxide values. It was concluded that the quality of virgin olive oil was associated with its chemical composition, and was the result of a complex interaction between several environmental factors associated with the area of cultivation, tree age, and harvest time.

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