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P

RIMARY

F
UNCTION OF

S
PICES

Flavor, Taste, Aroma, and Texture The overall flavor, taste, aroma, texture, or color that a spice contributes to food or beverage determines its effectiveness in a recipe or formula. Every spice or flavoring contains predominating chemical components that create these sensual qualities. A spices chemical compounds can contribute mild to strong flavors. The balance of these chemical compounds gives a spice its characteristic flavor profile. Spices give characterizing tastes and aromas. They give six basic taste perceptions: sweet, salty, spicy, bitter, sour, and hot. The other descriptive terms include pungent, umami (brothy, MSG, or soy-sauce-like), cooling, and floral, earthy, woody, or green. The taste sensations are generally experienced at different locations of the tongue: sweet is detected at the tip of the tongue, salty at the frontal sides of the tongue, sour at the posterior sides of the tongue, bitterness at the back of the tongue, and heat, depending on the type, at different areas of the tongue. Most spices have more than a single flavor profile. For example, fennel has not only sweet notes but also bitter and fruity notes, tamarind has fruity and sour notes, while cardamom has sweet and woody notes. A spices textural qualities are derived from its specific physical characteristics, the form in which it is used in a recipe (e.g., whole or ground), and the techniques used in its preparation. Most textural characteristics are obtained through the preparation and cooking techniques of spices, which are discussed later in this section. Lets look at the typical sensory characteristic obtained from each spice or ingredient (Table 6). (Note, however, that spice sensory profiles are frequently described from a mainstream, Western perspective. Western foods are generally seasoned in a blander and milder fashion. Therefore, Western descriptions are not necessarily consistent with the taste experiences of other cultures. For example, cumin, coriander, or cloves are often described as spicy, but to Asians and many other cultures, who are accustomed to eating hot and spicy foods, they are not perceived as spicy. This book generally describes spice tastes from a mainstream U.S. perspective but takes other cultural taste descriptions into account.) Coloring Some spices, such as saffron, paprika, turmeric, parsley, and annatto provide color as well as flavor to foods and beverages. Spices can meet consumers demands for natural colorings (Table 7). The components responsible for the coloring in spices are oil soluble or water soluble. Some typical coloring components in spices are crocin in saffron, carotenoids in paprika, capsanthin in chile pepper, bixin in annatto, or curcumin in turmeric. The overall coloring given by a spice is sometimes a combined effect of two or more of its coloring components. Saffron imparts a beautiful yellow color, which ranges from a deep red, yellowish orange to a reddish orange color, to paellas and pilafs. Its yellow color is primarily due to a terpene glycoside called crocin that is water soluble and not stable to acid
Forms, Functions, and Applications of Spices 37

or light. Crocin is hydrolyzed to crocetin that gives a darker shade of color. Though it is a permitted natural color in the United States, its use is limited because of its cost. Safflower is frequently substituted for saffron in many countries, but it is not permitted in the United States. Turmeric, from the ginger family, is often called Indian saffron. Its root is dried and ground to give a yellow color with an orange tinge. It is used as a natural

food coloring in salad dressings, pickles, mustards, soups, and condiments. Its coloring is due to curcumin, a diketone, that accounts for 3% to 7% of this spice. The curcumin content varies depending upon its source, with Allepey (India) turmeric having a higher amount of curcumin than other varieties. Turmerics color varies from a bright orange yellow to a reddish brown and is unstable to light and alkaline conditions. It can be used with high-heat products and in products with a pH of 2.5 to 6.5. Its color is yellow in an acid to a neutral pH, but reddish brown in an alkaline pH. Its color will break down when prepared in an iron utensil. Paprika is produced from the mild to pungent dried red pepper. The United States generally uses the mild paprika that has a brilliant red color derived from many different carotenoids. Capsanthin accounts for about 35% of the total carotenoids, violaxanthin 10%, cryptoxanthin and capsorbin each 6%, and other carotenoids 2%. Capsanthin is oil soluble, stable against heat, and has a strong red color. Paprika powder loses its color through oxidation, catalyzed by light and high temperatures. Its oleoresin, which has a reddish orange shade, is more stable to light and heat and is used in snack products, spice blends, crackers, and salad dressings. Annatto is ground from annatto seeds. It exhibits an orange yellow to a golden yellow shade and is used in cheddar cheese, bakery products, and sometimes in TABLE 6 Typical Sensory Characteristics of Spices
Sensory Characteristic Spices and Other Flavorings Sweet Green cardamom, anise, star anise, fennel, allspice, cinnamon Sour Sumac, caper, tamarind, sorrel, kokum, pomegranate Bitter Fenugreek, mace, clove, thyme, bay leaf, oregano, celery, epazote, ajowan Spicy Clove, cumin, coriander, canela, ginger, bay leaf Hot Chile peppers, mustard, fagara, black pepper, white pepper, wasabi Pungent Mustard, horseradish, wasabi, ginger, epazote, garlic, onion, galangal Fruity Fennel, coriander root, savory, tamarind, star anise Floral Lemongrass, sweet basil, pandan leaf, ginger flower Woody Cassia, cardamon, juniper, clove, rosemary Piney Kari leaf, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf Cooling Peppermint, basil, anise, fennel Earthy Saffron, turmeric, black cumin, annatto Herbaceous Parsley, rosemary, tarragon, sage, oregano, dillweed Sulfury Onion, garlic, chives, asafetida Nutty Sesame seed, poppy seed, mustard seed, whole seeds (ajowan, cumin)

38 Handbook of Spices, Seasonings, and Flavorings, Second Edition

combination with paprika and turmeric oleoresins. Its coloring is due to norbixin (water soluble) and bixin (oil soluble) which are stable at pH 5 to pH 14. Its color is resistant to heat but is less resistant to light. The coloring components of essential oils are generally extracted with ethanol or organic solvents, and the solvents are removed to give the coloring matter. Extracts of paprika, saffron, annatto, and turmeric with emulsifiers (polysorbate 80) are used as natural colors to provide the bright yellow, red, and orange hues in processed foods and beverages. They are available as oil-soluble (oleoresins) and water-dispersible extracts. Trace metals, oxidized fats and oils, intense light, and exposure to oxygen will promote color losses in these extractives.

S
ECONDARY

F
UNCTIONS OF

S
PICES

Secondary effects of spices are becoming more important as the publics desire for natural or organic foods and natural ways of healing increases. Spices have been used traditionally to stimulate appetite, enhance digestion, relieve stress, and increase

TABLE 7 Coloring Components of Selected Spices


Spices Coloring Component Type of Color Saffron Crocin Yellowish orange Crocetin Dark red Beta-Carotene Reddish orange Paprika Carotenoids: Capsanthin Dark red Violaxanthin Orange Cryptoxanthin Red Capsorbin Purplish red Beta-Carotene Reddish orange Lutein Dark red Zeaxanthin Yellow Chile pepper Beta-Carotene Reddish orange Cryptoxanthin Red Capsanthin Dark red Capsorbin Purplish red Turmeric Curcumin Orange yellow Parsley Chlorophyll Green Lutein Dark red Neoxanthin Orange yellow Violaxanthin Orange Annatto Bixin Golden yellow Norbixin Orange yellow Safflower Carthamin Orange red Saflor yellow Yellow

Forms, Functions, and Applications of Spices 39

energy. Spices can also aid nutrition when they are used in lieu of salt, fat, or sugar to enhance taste in processed foods. Spices may be used in food products as preservatives, which allows for a more natural or friendly label on processed foods. Spices as Preservatives Spices have long been known for their preservative qualities, as antimicrobials, and as antioxidants. They have been used by many ancient culturesEgyptians, Romans, Indians, Greeks, Chinese, and Native Americansto fumigate cities, embalm the royalty, preserve food, and prevent diseases and infections. Spices as Antimicrobials As early as 1500 BC, Egyptians used spices to preserve foods. In Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, before the days of refrigeration, spices were used to preserve meats, fish, bread, and vegetables. Spices were used alone or in combination with smoking, salting, and pickling to inhibit food spoilage. The Romans preserved fish sauce with dill, mint, and savory, and meats and sausages with cumin and coriander. The Greeks used garlic to prevent food spoilage, and in India, ginger, garlic, clove, and turmeric were used to preserve meats and fish. In ancient Egypt, cinnamon, cumin, and thyme were used in mummification. Spices are still used to preserve food in the villages of India, Africa, Indonesia, and Thailand. Spices have also been used for bactericidal and health reasons. During the Middle Ages, spices such as cinnamon, garlic, and oregano were used to treat cholera and other infectious diseases. In the late nineteenth century, clove, mustard, and cinnamon were shown to have antimicrobial activity. In the twentieth century, new research on spices, including ginger, garlic, fenugreek, coriander, turmeric, and clove, as potential natural antimicrobials, continued. Today this research continues. Aldehydes, sulfur, terpenes and their derivatives, phenols, and alcohols, exhibit strong antimicrobial activity. Spices have strong, moderate, or slight inhibitory activity against specific bacteria (Table 8). Cornell University studies have reported that garlic, oregano, onion, and allspice kill all bacteria; thyme, cinnamon, tarragon, and cumin kill up to 80% of bacteria; chilies up to 75% of bacteria; and black and white peppers, ginger, anise, and celery seed up to 25%. Kansas State University studies have reported that clove, cinnamon, oregano, and sage suppress growth of

Escherichia coli O157:H7 in uncooked meats, which causes gastrointestinal disease. Other recent studies have shown that dodecenal in coriander leaf and seed kills Salmonella in meats. A combination of spices can be more effective as preservatives than one spice. Microorganisms differ in their susceptibility to specific spices. Gram-positive bacteria are more sensitive to spices than gram-negative bacteria. Bacillus(B) subtilis and Staphylococcus(S) aureus are more susceptible than Eschrichia (E) coli bacteria. Certain spices can act as broad-spectrum antimicrobials, such as rosemary and sage, while others are very specific in their functions, such as allspice and coriander.
40 Handbook of Spices, Seasonings, and Flavorings, Second Edition

The essential oils of some spices have an inhibitory effect on bacteria and fungi in meats, sausages, pickles, breads, and juices. Eugenol in clove; cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon; allyl isothiocyanates in mustard; thymol in thyme, carvacrol in oregano; linalool in coriander, and allicin in garlic, are some of the components used as antimicrobials. The more pungent spice nonvolatile oils have also been shown to have strong antimicrobial properties, such as gingerol in ginger, piperine in black pepper, capsaicin in red peppers, and diallyl sulfide in garlic. Spices must be used at high levels to be effective antimicrobials, but this will cause flavor issues in food products. The level of spices typically added to Western style foods is generally not enough to inhibit microorganisms completely but may inhibit spoilage to some extent. Spice extractives at the levels used are effective against certain bacteria. Thyme (thymol), anise (anetol), and cinnamon (eugenol) essential oils inhibit mold growth and aflatoxin production.