An investigation was carried out on virgin olive oils of the Gentile (Larino), Gentile (Colletorto), Coratina, and Leccino varieties, harvested at different times, to assess their oxidation stability. The olive oils were analyzed by means of peroxide, K-232, and K 270 values at 1, 6, 12, and 18 mon of storage in green bottles, in the dark, at temperatures ranging from a mean of 6degreesC in winter to 12degreesC in summer. A subsample was also oven-tested at 75degreesC and then analyzed on a weekly basis using the same oxidative parameters. The less ripe the olives (harvested in the same area, during 1 mon), the more resistant the olive oils were to forced oxidation. The amount of total phenols in the oils was found to be directly related, even if to a low degree, to the oleuropein content in the olives and inversely related, to the same degree, to (3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)ethanol. The latter is a derivative of oleuropein; (3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)ethanol content increases as the olives ripen, but it is very low in fresh virgin olive oils, owing to the hydrophilic nature of the phenolic alcohol, which goes mainly into the waste-water during processing. Among the varieties considered, Coratina oils showed the highest resistance to forced oxidation because of their high total phenol content.
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