The olive maturation is decisive for the purpose of controlling the quality characteristics of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil and for the value of the final product.

The maturation process, which normally begins in October, lasts months, with proceeding scalar: the evolution depends on the latitude of the crops and the agronomic practices, varies according to the cultivar and is conditioned by the availability of water as well as the summer-autumn temperatures .

The various stages of maturation are readable from the outward appearance of the olives. When the color tends to fade, yellowing occurs, with the intense green that fades into light green and yellow: the greenish and hard pulp contains little oil. Later on the epidermis are formed spots of reddish color that tend to widen, up to affect the entire surface of the fruit.

It is the magic moment of technical maturation. In this phase the percentage of dry matter in the pulp increases, while the water decreases. Later, when the physiological maturation is reached, the oil increases are extremely limited, while those of dry substance are more relevant.

We are also witnessing a more or less profound modification of the relationships between fatty acids and minor compounds, so that a postponement of the harvest beyond the superficial veraison would result in an incontrovertible organoleptic flattening of the oil, and in a greater dynamism of alteration in the course of the storage.

The maturation never proceeds uniformly, not even on the same plant, so that at any given moment any olive grove has both green and black olives at the same time. Since it is not possible, for economic reasons, to carry out more collections on the same olive tree, but the time should be chosen when, on average, the greatest number of olives are present in the ideal condition of veraison.

In the absence of analytical methods that identify this circumstance with absolute precision, the most practical system remains the observation of the degree of pigmentation, better if aided by sampling and mathematical processing of the collected data.

The belief that with the physiological maturation more oil can be obtained, has meant that the harvest was traditionally procrastinated, in some cases even up to the spring. The results were either sweet, poor in polyphenols, poor in preservability, high acidity, often at the limit of edibility.

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