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Drying Jalapeno Peppers

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

Citation:  Paper number  026164,  2002 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.16017) @2002
Authors:   Haizhou Li, Lester O. Pordesimo, Bradford B. Reddick, Jung Hoon Lee
Keywords:   chile, hot pepper, drying, physical properties, capsaicin, harvest sequence, jalapeno

Processing peppers to extract capsaicin for non-food applications requires different, perhaps less constrained, raw material and processing specifications than when the peppers are processed for food use. These have to be identified. In order to do this, a better understanding of the relationship between raw material physical characteristics and the dehydration operation is needed. Understanding the relationship of different pepper fruit physical properties to pepper drying allows for the development of better cultivars for processing and the improvement in postharvest handling and processing of peppers.

Drying tests with jalapeo peppers grown in Tennessee demonstrated that high temperature drying increases processing speed, which in turn could potentially decrease processing costs, without any degradation in capsaicin levels in the dried product. Results indicated that drying temperatures as high as 115C may be used when the color of the dried product is not a concern. The speed in drying the peppers averaging 89.4 % to the 10-11% safe storage level can be enhanced further by slicing the peppers before drying. Slicing negated the barrier effects of epicuticular waxes of the pepper fruits. While there was a difference in the drying of whole fruit due to cultivar, slicing resulted in a similar drying trend for two jalapeo cultivars that were distinctly different in physical properties. Red pepper fruits were found to dry at a faster rate and this further supported the prevailing commercial practice of processing matured fruits at maximum color in order to optimize drying. A profile of the physical characteristics of the tested jalapeno cultivars over harvests was also generated. While dimensions of the pepper fruits were decreasing with progressive harvests, there was essentially no difference in the drying trends of peppers from one harvest to another.

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