Heating Up Spices

I love the Internet! I begin with a research idea and frequently end up going in an entirely different direction. This morning, for instance, I was going to do some more research on the bioavailability of curcumin but came across a fascinating study (http://tinyurl.com/2fh26z) titled Effect of heat processing of spices on the concentrations of their bioactive principles: Turmeric (Curcuma longa), red pepper (Capsicum annuum) and black pepper (Piper nigrum). Researchers tested these spices using three different home cooking methods: in boiling water for 10 and 20 minutes, and in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes. The greatest loss of curcumin occurred in the pressure cooking process: 53 %. Good thing I don’t own a pressure cooker, I guess!

The spices were heated separately and also with tamarind powder, an acidulant, and red gram, a legume also known as pigeon pea. The losses were still significant, although the combination turmeric-tamarind reduced the pressure cooker loss to 34 %. I have been cooking with turmeric and red pepper for a long time. (Since taking curcumin with piperine capsules, though, I no longer add black pepper to my food.) I will now make sure that I don’t overcook these spices, but add them at the last minute. I certainly don’t want to lose too many of their beneficial properties.

1 Comment

  1. First, may I congratulate you on your blog. It is a veritable
    encyclopedia and I know is the result of much dedication and
    perserverance.
    On the matter of hot spices, I do have some reservations
    I’m afraid.A newsgroup correspondent with tongue cancer could not understand how the disease had got to him. He was physically fit,
    did yoga and another Eastern discipline (Tai something), swam
    and did other physical activities.He lived in the East and ate
    Eastern foods which were very hot spicey foods, but contained
    little red meat.
    An oncologist explained that spices were a cause of this cancer.
    For the time-being things are on hold with me as far as hot
    spices are concerned.
    Best wishes to you, Margaret.Keep up the good work.

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