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J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Feb 11;52(3):518-22.

Changes in the carotenoid metabolism of capsicum fruits during application of modelized slow drying process for paprika production.

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  • 1Grupo de Química y Bioquímica de Pigmentos, Departamento de Biotecnología de Alimentos, Instituto de la Grasa, CSIC Av. Padre García Tejero, 4. 41012, Sevilla, Spain.


A temperature profile simulating the traditional slow drying process of red pepper fruits, which is conducted in La Vera region (Spain) for paprika production, was developed. Carotenoid and ascorbic acid content, as well as moisture of fruits, were monitored during the slow drying process designed. Data obtained suggested that the evolution of carotenoid concentration, the main quality trait for paprika, directly depend on the physical conditions imposed. During the drying process, three different stages could be observed in relation to the carotenoids. The first stage corresponds to a physiological adaptation to the new imposed conditions that implied a decrease (ca. 20%) in the carotenoid content during the first 24 h. After that short period and during 5 days, a second stage was noticed, recovering the biosynthetic (carotenogenic) capability of the fruits, which denotes an accommodation of the fruits to the new environmental conditions. During the following 48 h (third stage) a sharp increase in the carotenoid content was observed. This last phenomenon seems to be related with an oxidative-thermal stress, which took place during the first stage, inducing a carotenogenesis similar to that occurring in over-ripening fruits. Results demonstrate that a fine control of the temperature and moisture content would help to positively modulate carotenogenesis and minimize catabolism, making it possible to adjust the drying process to the ripeness stage of fruits with the aim of improving carotenoid retention and therefore quality of the resulting product. In the case of ascorbic acid, data demonstrated that this compound is very sensitive to the drying process, with a decrease of about 76% during the first 24 h and remaining only at trace levels during the rest of the process. Therefore, no antioxidant role should be expected from ascorbic acid during the whole process and in the corresponding final product (paprika), despite that red pepper fruit is well-known to be rich on this compound.

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