Olive & Oil 07/04/2014

Table olives are not all the same. It is not just the variety to make a difference

The loss, even percentage, of sugars, phenols and flavonoids is not equal for all cultivars. To influence the final organoleptic characteristics may be, however, also the bacteria involved in the fermentation. In Italy dominates the Lactobacillus pentosus

Changes in some physico-chemical characteristics (pH and free acidity) and chemical composition (sugars, total phenolic and flavonoid contents) of four olive cultivars during spontaneous fermentation in brine were investigated. The cultivars were typical of the Moroccan market: “Moroccan Picholine”, “Languedoc Picholine”, “Ascolana” and “Sevillana”. The physico-chemical changes of olives and brines during fermentation process were monitored. A similar pattern of pH was noticed for the “Moroccan Picholine”, “Languedoc Picholine” and “Ascolana” cultivars with a final pH ranging between 4.4 and 4.6. The profile of free acidity measured throughout fermentation period in brines was in agreement with the pH trend. The concentration of sugars, total phenolic and flavonoids contents in olives flesh and brines during fermentation is reported. The loss of flavonoids, sugars and total phenolic contents in the olive flesh by the end of fermentation process was up to 60%, 63% and 79% in “Languedoc Picholine”, “Sevillana” and “Moroccan Picholine”, respectively. The main phenols identified and quantified in the different brines at the end of brining process were hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, (+)-catechin and quercetine. The highest total phenolic content and antioxidant activity were obtained in Moroccan Picholine brine after 71 days of fermentation.

Culture-dependent and -independent approaches were applied to identify the bacterial species involved in Italian table olive fermentation. Bacterial identification showed that Lactobacillus pentosus was the dominant species although the presence of Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei, Enterococcus durans, Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus helveticus was observed. Rep-PCR allowed to obtain strain-specific profiles and to establish a correlation with table olive environment. PCR-DGGE (Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis) confirmed the heterogeneity of bacterial community structure in fermented table olives as well as the prevalence of L. pentosus. The strains were characterized on the basis of technological properties (NaCl tolerance, β-glucosidase activity and the ability to grow in synthetic brine and in presence of 1 g/100 mL oleuropein). L. pentosus showed a high capacity of adaptation to the different conditions characterizing the olive ecosystem. This species showed the highest percentage of strains able to grow in presence of 10 g/100 mL NaCl, oleuropein and in the synthetic brine. Moreover, all the strains belonging to L. pentosus and L. plantarum species showed a β-glucosidase activity. This study allowed both to identify the main species and strains associated to Italian table olives and to obtain a lactic acid bacteria collection to apply as starter culture in the process of olive fermentation.

di S. C.