Processing of Capsicums

Standardization, grading and storage of dry chillies

The Bureau of Indian Standards has outlined specified standards for dried chillies based on physical characteristics, as well as on other factors such as total ash, acid insoluble ash, non-volatile ether extract and fibre content. Under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (1954), minimum purity standards are laid down for chillies. Agmark specifications for the grading of dry chillies for export takes into account various physical, chemical, sensory and microbiological parameters (Agmark, 1962).

Microbial and insect infestations are serious problems during the storage of dried Capsicum. Ethylene oxide fumigation in bulk is recognized as the best treatment to achieve practical commercial sterility (Govindarajan, 1985). Methyl bromide and phosphene are used as

Table 10.1 Breeding objectives for major fruit quality traits in various market types of pepper (Capsicum spp.)

Market type

Important fruit quality traits

Fresh market (green, red, multi-colour) whole fruits

Fresh processing (sauce, paste, canning, freezing)

Dried spices (whole fruits, powder)

Oleoresin extraction Ornamental (plants or fruits)

Colour, pungency11, shape, size, lob number, flavour, exocarp thickness, endocarp seed ratio, vitamin A and C Colour, pungency, flavour, pericarp thickness, endocarp seed ratio Colour, pungency, flavour, dry weight, low crude fibre, endocarp seed ratio Essential oils (colour, pungency) Colour, pungency, shape, dry weight

Note a Qualified for non-pungency or quantified for degree of pungency.

fumigants for insect control. Ionizing radiation with a dosage of lOkGy has been shown to destroy both microorganisms and insects. A dosage of 7.5 kGy has been shown to be sufficient for eliminating fungal populations, and oleoresin yields have increased from 24.45% to 31.61% by irradiation due to the enhanced extractibility (Onyenkwe and Ogbade, 1995).

As mentioned earlier, a large number of products are produced from chilli and paprika. The raw material quality requirements for different end uses vary. In order to satisfy the precise requirements, extensive work has been carried out on chilli breeding. Some of the breeding objectives are given in Table 10.1 (Peter, 1998). For the genetic upgrading of oleoresin quality and deeper red colour in Indian chillies, Pusa Jwala was crossed with IC 31339. The new strains attained superiority over parental varieties by possessing 20% and 27.5% more capsaicin and oleoresin, respectively, and a higher colour value (CV) of the order of 22,000 and 27,200 CV, respectively (Wealth of India, 2000).

Drying and dehydration

Dried chillies and paprika are the raw materials for the commercially important products of chilli powder, oleoresin and colour. Therefore, the most important primary processing operation for chillies and paprika is drying.

Traditionally, chillies are sun dried to a safe moisture level (about 10%) mainly for transportation, storage, distribution and further processing. Over the years, with the growing demand for speciality products with the required pungency, colour and particle size, along with the information generated on the significance of curing and drying conditions on the functional properties of Capsicum, have lead to the development of improved methods for their dehydration. The major factor contributing to the product quality is the cultivar. The chemical quality characteristics (oleoresin, colour and ascorbic acid content) of some important varieties of chillies grown in different regions of India are given in Table 10.2 (Papalkar et al., 1992; Pruthi, 1998).

In addition to the intrinsic factors, varietal characteristics have also been found to affect the stability of colour in chillies. Lease and Lease (1956) showed that under similar conditions of processing and storage of red peppers as powder for six months, one variety retained 78% of the initial colour while in another, there was almost complete loss. The role of harvesting maturity to colour retention in red chilli powder has been reported (Isidoro et al., 1995). Subsequent

Table 10.2 Chemical quality of some varieties of chillies

Variety

Oleoresin (%)

Total

Ascorbic acid

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