Ultrasound-assisted extraction is an innovative technique applied to the extraction process for virgin olive oil (VOO), which is generally employed to increase plant efficiency and improve product quality. A high-power ultrasound (US) device was introduced at an industrial plant that can process at 2 tons/h to evaluate the technique's physicochemical impact on quality parameters of VOO that was caused by an intensive mass transfer induced by acoustic cavitation process and shockwaves. The impact on oil yield was also evaluated with respect to the ripening stage and malaxation time. No significant effects on the legal and commercial parameters of VOO (including quality indices, sterols, triterpene dialcohols, waxes and diacylglycerols) were found for olives at medium-early ripening stage. Significant physical changes, increased extraction yield (22.7%), enhanced phenol content (10.1%) were observed in US-VOO compared to control (C) oil extracted with a traditional process at an early maturity index.
Keywords: Fruit ripening; Malaxation time; Phenols; Physicochemical composition; Ultrasound; VOO quality; Volatile compounds.
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