Prepared Foods

Hot Peppers: More than Just Heat

December 9, 2003
From the warm, sweet notes of red peppers to the fresh, green flavor of jalapenos to the smoked notes of chipotles, hot pepper ingredients can contribute far more to products than just the capsaicin heat for which they are famous.

TABASCO® ingredients from McIlhenny Company, Avery Island, La., come in many forms and flavor nuances to suit a host of food applications. Their flagship product, TABASCO Red Pepper Sauce, is made by fermenting their special variety of red peppers with vinegar and salt to develop the famous flavor.

“Our product is not just cayenne and salt,” says Jason Gronlund, corporate chef and director of ingredient sales. “Our flavor comes from fermentation.” Their color is all natural and all products are kosher and non-GMO.

Products Evolve

Since Edmund McIlhenny started growing and processing peppers in the late 1860s, the product line has diversified to include industrial ingredients in dry, liquid and intermediate moisture forms.

Dry, powdered pepper ingredients go into seasoning blends, dry rubs for meats, snack seasonings and battered and breaded products. One of the hottest of the ingredients is Dry Red Flavoring. It is made from dried and milled fermented red peppers, minus the skins and seeds.

“The dry red is ten times hotter than our liquid pepper sauce because it is not simply a spray dried sauce, but is made of ground red peppers,” states Gronlund. With a Scoville measurement of 75,000 to 105,000 SHU, a low usage level still produces a fiery effect.

Crushed red pepper, a blend of the seed and skin that gives a particulate identity to a seasoning, also has high heat at 60,000 to 130,000 SHU. More mildly pungent at 500-1,000 SHU is dry green flavoring, made from pureed green jalapeno peppers plated onto a maltodextrin carrier. They add mild pungency and a fresh green jalapeno note.

For batter and breading systems, the dry seasonings should be used in the pre-dust before battering and breading to protect it because some of the flavor can flash off in the hot oil. For chips and snacks, the dry seasonings can be added to the seasoning blend and then tumbled to apply.

Snack Brands Inc., Franklin Park, Ill., is a co-branding licensee of the McIlhenny Co. for its TABASCO Cheese Popcorn. The dry red and dry green seasonings are mixed with the cheeses and tumbled onto the popcorn. “We use less red than green,” says Peggy Keith, manager of license development and contract compliance. “We chose green for flavor and red to enhance heat. We found they complement one another to achieve the flavor we want. The popcorn is medium hot because it was developed to appeal to a wide consumer base.” The red seasoning adds a little color to the snack. The popcorn has the trademark TABASCO diamond logo on the package, which is a point of recognition for consumers.

Hot pepper ingredients add flavor, depth and color to a variety of dishes.
Additional sauce flavors have joined the traditional red sauce that McIlhenny invented. Green pepper sauce features the fresh, green flavor of jalapenos, along with fermented notes and a mild vinegar taste. Garlic pepper sauce combines garlic with three different varieties of red peppers, cayenne, oak-aged tabasco and red jalapeno peppers. Habaneros are among the hottest peppers around, but Habanero Pepper Sauce is made gentler by a blend of mango, banana, tamarind, and papaya for a tropical flavor. A new sauce based on chipotle peppers will be introduced soon.

For more information:
Leslie Hall at 337-373-6105
ldhall@tabasco.comwww.tabascoingredients.com
McIlhenny Co. Write in 215