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Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 20(1): 35-38. (doi: 10.13031/2013.15677) @2004
Authors:   L. O. Pordesimo, H. Li, J. H. Lee, B. B. Reddick
Keywords:   Hot peppers, Jalapeno, Capsaicin, Capaicinoid, Drying, Processing, Yields

An issue that needs to be addressed is how to harvest and process peppers in order to obtain the highest capsaicin extraction for use in non-food applications. This study was undertaken to investigate this issue using jalapeo peppers as the test material. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of cultivar, fruit color, harvest sequence, and drying parameters (pod physical state, drying air temperature) on the capsaicin levels.

Observations on jalapeo peppers planted in 2000 in East Tennessee revealed that the greatest harvest weight of pods occurred just after the first harvest of the season. Concentration of total capsaicinoids in fresh jalapeo peppers did not significantly change over progressive harvests and there was no difference in total capsaicinoid concentration between green and red fresh peppers. These findings indicate that there is no need to sort fresh peppers by color in order to optimize processing for capsaicin extraction.

Drying temperatures tested, ranging from ambient (~27.C) to 85.C, did not affect the concentration of total capsaicinoids in dried jalapeo peppers. It is possible that higher temperatures can be used without affecting capsaicin levels; however, the limit was not determined in this study. Drying effectively concentrated capsaicinoids in the dried product by almost 15 times the level in fresh peppers. Physical state of the peppers when dried (whole or cut) did not affect concentration of capsaicinoids within the temperature range tested. If drying is to be part of any extraction process, then fast drying can be accomplished to reduce costs by using higher temperatures (within limits) and slicing the peppers for enhanced moisture transfer rates. If slicing is to be accomplished, care should be given to retaining the pepper seeds.

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