Spices are aromatic vegetable substances – either a seed, fruit, root or bark, whose significant function is in flavouring, colouring or preserving food.
- Coriander – Seed
- Cinnamon – Bark
- Ginger – Root
- Chilli – Fruit
Unique & complex flavours can be created by using mixtures of spices that complement each other – these blends are commonly referred to as masalas , curry powders or seasonings. The role of spices in preparation of food is multi-faceted. Some are added to bring colour while some are used for preservation. Some spices are added for their taste while others are used for their aroma.
The quality of the spices is instrumental in bringing out the quality in your dishes. And just like any food ingredient that is manufactured, a spice powder or spice blend also goes through stringent quality & process parameter checks to ensure its safety for consumption.
Right from sourcing the best quality raw material to passing it through machines that sort , grade , clean, dry , mill & pack them ; setting the right manufacturing & process conditions ; monitoring & assuring the quality at every process stage – Eastern ensures none of these checks goes a miss &you get nothing but the BEST.
Here’s an insight to some of the quality guidelines laid by the country’s food laws (FSSAI- the Food Safety & Standards Act) which we at EASTERN strictly adhere to and make no compromise on.
Quality parameters in spices:
Have you ever wondered what those components are that contribute to the unique colour, aroma, flavour & taste of a well-cooked dish ? The waft of air that fills your kitchen …the delectable taste of your gravies. The pungency that stings your tongue & the vibrant colour that entices your eyes ….All these are contributed due to a group of compounds in spices called active ingredients.
Given below are some of the quality measures of these active ingredients & their specifications –
The essential constituent of a spice is the volatile oil. The volatile components provide the characteristic aroma of the spices .The measurement of volatile oil in spices is also a good measure of the age & processing conditions the spice has seen. The quality of raw material, the milling temperatures, the final packaging & storage conditions ensure in keeping the volatile content intact. Eastern adopts a unique Flavour Lock technology that ensures the volatile oil in the spices are retained in every pack.
Different spices have different percentages of volatile oil. Specifications of a few spices are:-
- Clove powder – 16.0% min
- Coriander powder – 0.09% min
- Black pepper powder – 1.75% min
- Cumin powder – 1.3% min
The complete flavour of a spice comes from both the volatile (aromatic) and non-volatile (flavour) components.
Non-volatile Ether Extract (NVEE) is a qualitative measure of the flavour component in a spice that is not volatile & is present as fixed oil.
Some of the NVEE measure to be maintained are:
- Chilli powder – 12% min
- Cumin powder – 15% min
- Black pepper powder – 6% min
- Curry powder – 7.5% min
Piperine level in Black pepper
Piperine is the primary chemical responsible for the bite in black pepper. The accurate measurement of this chemical is important in controlling this attribute the spice brings. A good quality pepper should have a minimum piperine content of 4%
Extractable colour of turmeric
Turmeric is usually used for the bright yellow color it provides to the food. The chemical –curcumin,is primarily responsible for this yellow colour. The determination of the curcumin content of turmeric is by solvent extraction or by measurement spectrophotometrically. Turmeric is sold based on the curcumin content.
- Curcumin content – 2% min
Extractable color of Paprika/Chilli products
The extractable color of chilli products is accomplished in much the same manner as turmeric. The color is spectrophotometrically. Paprikas/chillis are sold based on the amount of extractable colour. The colour is measured in colour units or ASTA units.
The measurement of moisture in spices is of practical importance as a control of microbial growth. High moisture results in a build-up of microbial & fungal growth which cause harm during consumption. Moisture levels are maintained at the optimum levels during processing & are checked before packing.
- Chilli powder – 11.0% max
- Coriander powder – 9.0% max
- Black Pepper powder – 12.5% max
- Turmeric powder – 10.0% max
Total Ash & Acid insoluble ash
The total ash & acid insoluble ash content of spice is an indicator of the cleanliness of a spice. A perfectly clean spice does not contain sand, gritor inorganic minerals that have been added to the spice. Process methods have been adopted to ensure product is free from such matter.
- Total Ash
- Chilli powder – 8.0% max
- Coriander powder – 7.0% max
- Black Pepper powder – 6.0% max
- Cumin powder – 9.5% max
- Acid insoluble ash
- Chilli powder – 1.3% max
- Coriander powder – 1.5% max
- Black pepper powder – 1.2% max
- Cumin powder – 1.5% max
The test for crude fibre is a tool to detect adulteration of spices. It indicates if other matter is added to spices.
- Clove powder – 13.05 max
- Nutmeg powder – 10.0% max
- Black pepper powder – 17.5% max
These are some of the manytests that we conduct on every batch of spice & spice blend being manufactured in our factory. Advanced testing on microbial, pesticide &aflatoxin analysis are some of the other tests we conduct (Know more on these tests in our next blog) . Our lab holds the prestigious accreditation from NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories), our manufacturing plants have numerous quality certifications such as HACCP, ISO 22000 2005 , BRC, Halal & Kosher to its credit.Be assured of the product quality & safety with every pack of EASTERN!