Current lye processing for debittering California black table olives produces large amounts of caustic wastewater and destroys many of the beneficial phenolic compounds in the fruit. Herein, we propose using enzyme treatment in place of lye, potentially reducing the amount and causticity of wastewater produced. By specifically targeting the bitterness-causing compound, oleuropein, retention of other beneficial phenolics may be possible. A β-glucosidase from Streptomyces sp. was identified from a screen of 22 glycosyl hydrolases to completely degrade oleuropein in 24 h. Computational modeling was performed on this enzyme, and mutation C181A was found to improve the rate of catalysis by 3.2-fold. This mutant was tested in the context of the olive fruit and leaf extract. Degradation was observed in the olive leaf extract but not in the fruit matrix, suggesting that enzyme fruit penetration is a limiting factor. This work discovers and begins the refinement process for an enzyme that has the catalytic properties for debittering olives and provides direction for future engineering efforts required to make a product with commercial value.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)