Spice Oleoresins as Value-Added Ingredient for Food Industry: Recent Advances and Perspectives

Oleoresins are concentrated spices, herbs, seeds, and other plant extracts used alone and as food additives. They are a resin-like residue, either solid, semi-solid, liquid, viscous oils, or thick pastes, one of two products obtained from spices and oils. These oleoresins display the same flavor profile and nutrient yield of the source product, yet with up to 20 times the flavor intensity.
Various extraction methods are used, including ultrasound-assisted supercritical carbon dioxide extraction, offering the highest oleoresin yield, and hydrocarbon solvent extraction. The approach depends on the nature of the plant, the bioactive compound structure, choosing the critical input parameters, and the science and skills available.
Spice oleoresins represent some of our favorite condiments. These powders include pepper, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and spice oils, which are a significant international export. They yield a pungent aroma and flavor to appealing and healthy food and beverage products. In addition, they provide numerous benefits, including an abundance of natural, active compounds, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. As a result, these compounds are also vital in the pharmaceutical industry.
How Spice Oleoresins Add Value
Oleoresins are versatile, maintaining original product notes, potent enough to add flavor and color, yet sufficiently nuanced for fragrance or flavor layering. Although intense, these extracts are less concentrated than other ingredient forms such as essential oils and absolutes and thus ideal for inclusion in complex flavor or fragrance profiles. In addition, oleoresins are water-soluble, so they are perfect in liquid mixtures. These extracts are also conveniently shelf-stable for at least 12 months, require less storage space, and don’t need any special temperature considerations.
In addition, most of the original plant product remains as waste, or ‘spents’, with just a limited proportion currently used in animal feeds. However, all these remnants could be reused, providing health benefits and helping to reduce pollution and preserve the environment.
Like the oil and oleoresin extracts, these spents are packed with beneficial vitamins, proteins, minerals, and polyphenols, including essential dietary fiber. This protein-rich fiber often makes up more than half of the spents, potentially ideal as an affordable source of fiber for various applications, including traditionally highly processed bakes such as bread and biscuits. The same fiber can also add thermal stability and tensile strength to composites, act as a weedicide, or help produce bioactive film.
This valuable extract and the whole plant offer value in food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, toiletries and cosmetics, building materials, veterinary, and farming. Growth in the category is also spurring innovative oleoresin production developments.
Recent Oleoresin Extraction Advances
Oleoresin extraction and usage advances include:

  • Microencapsulation: Similar to other natural substances, oleoresins oxidize when exposed to light, temperature, and oxygen. However, to avoid this, oleoresins can be microencapsulated through spray drying. This process helps protect and preserve their beneficial compounds from destructive alterations. It also converts the spice to a flowable powder, allowing controlled release of the active ingredients. In addition, microcapsule powders are easily applied as a natural food colorant.
  • Green credentials: Interest in greener extraction methods, which simultaneously enhance the oleoresin quality, is growing. For example, the characteristics of supercritical fluids, such as supercritical carbon dioxide, mean that they behave like gas and liquid. This property is of interest in extracting added-value compounds, fatty acids, and essential oils. In addition, the option offers speed, high efficiency, selectivity, and sustainability and is predicted to grow.
  • Flavor preservation: Although less concentrated, oleoresins have advantages over essential oils. Extraction methods and the heavy oils in oleoresins help preserve the low flavor notes otherwise destroyed during steam distillation. This preservation makes oleoresins the closest liquid extractive to the true essence of the source product.

However, high-quality natural oleoresins are not always easy to find. Look to Advanced Biotech for a wide selection of natural, certified oleoresins produced using approved and cutting-edge techniques. These ingredients include more common extracts such as cocoa and vanilla, as well as less common options, such as ginger and almond, to suit your single element or customized product needs. Please contact us for more information.