Paprika, a red spice, imparts flavor and colour to food. Paprika, the ground, dried fruit of Capsicum annuum, has been used as a colour and/or spice for centuries as the raw ground powder in foods such as chili, chorizo, and goulash. Paprika colour compounds can also be solvent extracted to produce paprika oleoresin, a purified form of the colouring compounds.
The colourants found in paprika and paprika oleoresin are: capsanthin, capsorubin and beta-carotene, all of which are carotenoids. Paprika and paprika oleoresin are both stable to heat but sensitive to light and alkaline conditions. The pigments are naturally insoluble in water, especially the oleoresin. Food colouring manufacturers circumvent this through emulsification, allowing paprika to be used in both aqueous and lipid products. Food and beverage companies commonly use the oil soluble form of paprika oleoresin for colouring.
Paprika is readily available and delivers a range of hues from light yellow to a unique dark orange. Paprika is very popular in Japan. The European Union requires labeling as a colour additive E160c if the carotenoid content is greater than 7%. Paprika is oil soluble but it is not water soluble so it must always be emulsified to be water dispersible.
To learn more about paprika oleoresin and its application, please see our Spray-Dried Turmeric and Paprika Technical Tips.