Pepper Processing System

PEPPER PROCESSING SYSTEM

Pepper is often described as the “king of spices,” and it shares a place on most dinner tables with salt. The word pepper originated from the Sanskrit word pippali, meaning berry. Pepper is now grown in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Kampuchea as well as the West coast of India, known as Malabar, where it originated. The United States is the largest importer of pepper. India is still the largest exporter of the spice, and Brazil may be among the newest exporter of pepper.


THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS

Post harvest processing

Post harvest processing operations followed for black pepper involves threshing, blanching, drying, cleaning, grading and packaging. During processing care should be taken to maintain the quality at each step of operation.

Threshing

The berries are separated from the spike usually by trampling with human legs. This operation is crude, tedious and unhygienic. Chances of extraneous matter, soil particles and filth contaminating the produce are also high. Mechanical threshers with capacities varying from 50 kg/h to 2500 kg/h are available which can thresh quickly and provide cleaner products. Considering the shortage of human labour mechanical threshing can be popularized at cluster level.

Blanching

The quality of the black pepper can be improved by a simple treatment of dipping the mature berries taken in perforated vessel in boiling water for a minute before drying. This processing technique has several advantages: • Uniform coloured black pepper is obtained after drying.

  • Reduces the microbial load.
  • Pepper can be dried in 3 – 4 days as against 5 – 6 days required when following the traditional practice
  • Removes the extraneous impurities like dust from the berries.

Drying

Pepper has moisture content of 65% to 70% at harvest, which should be brought to safer levels of 10% by adequate drying. The green colour of matured pepper is due to the presence of chlorophyll pigment. During drying, enzymatic browning sets in and the phenolic compounds are oxidized by atmospheric oxygen under the catalytic influence of the enzyme phenolase and eventually turn black.

Sun drying is the conventional method followed for drying of black pepper. The despiked berries are spread on concrete floor and dried under sun for 3 – 5 days to bring the moisture content below 10%. Dried black pepper with high moisture content (>12%) is susceptible to fungal attack. Mycotoxins produced by the fungal attack render the pepper unfit for human consumption. In order to achieve a quality dry product, pepper berries are spread on clean dry concrete floor / bamboo mats/ PVC sheets and dried in the sun for a period of 4 – 6 days. The average dry recovery varies between 33 – 37 per cent depending on the varieties and cultivars. Mechanical driers developed by various agencies are also used to dry black pepper. Models of varying capacities operated either electrically or by burning agricultural wastes are available for drying of black pepper by maintaining temperature below 55 ° C.

Cleaning and grading

The threshed and dried black pepper has extraneous matter like spent spikes, pinheads, stones, soil particles etc. mixed with it. Cleaning and grading are basic operations that enhance the value of the produce and help to get higher returns. Cleaning on a small scale is done by winnowing and hand picking which removes most of the impurities. Such units consist of a fan/ blower and a feeding assembly. The fan is placed at the rear end of the hopper. Cleaning is achieved by feeding the material through the hopper into a stream of air blowing in perpendicular direction. The lighter fractions (dust, immature berries, pin heads and spent spikes) are blown away. Grading of black pepper is done by using sieves and shifting black pepper into different grades based on size. The major grades of black pepper are Tellicherry Garbled Special Extra Bold (TGSEB) (4.8 mm); Tellicherry Garbled Extra Bold (TGEB) (4.2 mm); Tellicherry Garbled (TG) (4.0 mm); Malabar Garbled (MG grades 1 and 2) and Malabar Ungarbled (MUG grades 1 and 2).

White pepper

It is generally prepared by retting (with frequently changing of water) fully ripened red berries for 7 – 8 days followed by removal of outer skin, washing and drying to a moisture level of 12%. White pepper is also prepared by fermentation using matured green pepper and black pepper.

Packaging

Organically grown black pepper should be packaged separately and labelled . Mixing different types of pepper is not good from a commercial point of view. Eco friendly packaging materials such as clean gunny bags or paper bags may be adopted and the use of polythene bags may be minimized. Recyclable/ reusable packaging materials shall be used wherever possible.

Storage

Black pepper is hygroscopic in nature and absorption of moisture from air, during rainy season when there is high humidity may result in mould and insect infestation. Before storage it is to be dried to less than 10 per cent moisture. The graded produce is bulk packed separately in multilayer paper bags or woven polypropylene bags provided with food grade liners or in jute bags. The bags are arranged one over the other on wooden pallets after laying polypropylene sheets on the floor.

Source : Indian Institute of Spices Research

 

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