Chili Pungency Assessment

Chili Pungency Assessment
by Lilian Scottish

However, the later study of Korean capsicums by Lee (1971) has suggested that the situation is more complex, and that the relative abundance of pungent material in the dissepiments and pericarp can differ among cultivars and also according to the stage of maturity at harvest.

Nevertheless, problems are apparent with many of the published methods owing to the fact that they fail to determine the relative abundance of the individual capsaicinoids and to make corrections for their differing pungency levels. Interested readers are referred to the critical reviews of Maga (1975) and Salzer (1975a) which discuss the merits and limitations of some of the different approaches taken for pungency assessment.

The most promising instrumental approach for pungency determination reported at the time of writing this review was a gaschromatography method devised by Todd et al. (1977). The method permits the resolution of individual capsainoids, a quantitative determination of their relative abundande and a calculation of the total Scoville pungency rating of the sample.

In the investigation of Egyptian cultivars by Balbaa et al. pungency was not detected until after the fruits had begun to change from green to green-yellow, some four weeks after fertilization in summer plants and five weeks in plants grown in the autumn. The final pungency value of the mature fruits was found to be slightly higher in the summer crop than the autumn crop. While the capsaicinoid content of the whole fruit and the pericarp portion increased gradually over the ripening period, that of the dissepiment and placenta portions decreased somewhat.

However, there is some controversy over whether the seeds, which constitute some 50 per cent of the weight of dried capsicums and chillies and about 35 per cent of dried paprika fruit, contain any pungent material. Tice (1933) felt that they did not, but more recent studies (Tandon et al., 1964; Balbaa et al., 1968; Lee, 1971; Mathew et al., 1971) indicate that the seeds contain about 10 per cent of the total pungent material in the fruit. In support of Tice, Maga (1975) has sug- gested that the slight pungency found in the seeds may arise from surface contamination during their separation from the remainder of the fruit.

A number of studies of pungency variations have been reported in the literature but there are difficulties in drawing comparisons owing to the not inconsiderable problem of assurance of the botanical species.

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