Capsicum Chilies

Capsicum Chilies

While oleoresin capsicum from African chillies is used in many commercial food products where only pungency is desired, one of the most widely used oleoresins is that obtained from the somewhat milder capsicums which enter into the formulation of red pepper, providing both pungency and colour. The Essential Oil Association of America has a standard which gives as its origin the dried fruit of Capsicum var. longum Sendt., known in commerce as Louisiana Long Pepper, or the hybrid pepper known as the Louisiana Sport Pepper, both US domestic peppers, but in the US Federal Specification, red pepper is described as being derived from any species of Capsicum. The commercial oleoresin originates from capsicums grown in the United States, Japan, India, Turkey, Mexico, Ethiopia or other African countries.

The oleoresin is prepared by a method similar to that by which oleoresin capsicum is obtained, except that it is not re-extracted with ethanol. This would exclude the fixed oil and, as the colour is preferentially soluble in this oil, the oleoresin would lose much of its colour, on which its commercial value depends to a large extent.

The seeds of the fruits contain most of the fixed oil but none of the colour or pungency. It is possible to increase the content of capsaicin or the colour, or both, by eliminating the fixed oil. Extraction of the most highly pungent types of capsicums, followed by reextraction with ethanol, gives a product with a capsaicin content approaching that of oleoresin capsicum prepared from African chillies. This is of value when African chillies are not obtainable.

By extraction of the pericarp, after removal of the seeds, the content of both capsaicin and colour in the oleoresin can be substantially increased when compared with those in the oleoresin prepared from the whible fruits. This forms the basis of a patented method by which a cornpany in the United States produces oleoresin paprika; here, the capsaicin content is very small, but the product shows a marked enrichment of its colour.

In both these cases the overall yield is smaller and the cost of the operation is increased; this has to be considered in relation of the usefulness of the product. The large varieties of C. annuum grown for consumption as vege- tables or for the manufacture of paprika are sweet in the green state, but some types develop a mild pungency on ripening to the red state. Paprika powder, therefore, may be sweet or mildly pungent but its cap- saicin content is usually much less than 0.05 per cent.

The pungency of paprika powder, however, is not only dependent upon the cultivar grown but also on the processing procedure since some manufacturers grind the pericarp only, rejecting inner portions of the fruit which contain much of the pungent material. Spanish sweet paprika has a capsaicin content ranging between zero and 0.003 per cent.

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