Red Chile peppers (Capsicum spp.) have become one of the fastest growing spices in U.S. market due to the changing American diet, increasing ethnic diversity and the influence of ethnic foods. Louisiana has long been known for its famous hot sauce production especially sauces that are made from Tabasco pepper (C. frutescens). The raw peppers are normally ground together with salt and fermented before production. Peppers mash is usually fermented in wood barrel made out of oak. However, a wood barrel is very expensive when used in pepper fermentation. As compared to wood barrel, plastic barrel have longer usage time and better sanitation. Understanding the chemical breakdown process involved in fermentation may assist in the development of better quality sauce, improve production sanitation, and reduce the manufacturing cost.
The main objective of this study was to evaluate physicochemical properties of Tabasco pepper(C. frutescens) during a two-year fermentation period as affected by the aging material including wooden barrels and plastic barrels. Physicochemical properties like dry weight, pH, titratable acidity, capsaicin level, and sugar level was investigated in a two-year red Tabasco pepper (C. frutescens) fermentation process.
Dry weight, pH, and titratable acidity (TA) were measured using standard AOAC procedure. Capsaicin, dihydrocapsaicin, fructose, sucrose, and glucose were analyzed using HPLC method. The soluble uronide that diffused into solution was determined as uronic acid equivalents by the hydroxybiphenyl method using galacturonic acids as standard. Total uronide content and pectin solubility in chelator was determined in air-dried tissues. The degree of depolymerization of CDTA soluble pectin from air-dried tissues was determined by size exclusion gel chromatography. Dry weight of pepper mash significantly decreased during fermentation. Titratable acidity increased due to lactic acid production which lead to decreased in pH. After fermentation, pepper mash still contained residual sugar. Fermentation process did not affect the capsaicinoids concentration.
In this study, pepper mash fermented in plastic and oak wood barrel did not show any significant differences in pH, titratable acidity, sugar level, total uronide concentration, pectin degradation, and capsaicin level. Plastic barrels might be an alternative to wood barrels.