Bugs in the cayenne pepper!

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Bugs in the cayenne pepper!

Postby Thewitt » Tue May 13, 2014 5:51 am

Opened a 10kg bag of cayenne pepper this morning, only to find several thousand little beetles!

Called my supplier who will be replacing the order, then started looking around online to see how odd this was....or not. Turns out these little beetles love "red" spices, and I've been lucky not to get them till now in paprika as well from what I read.

The red spices are now in the walk in, but I was just wondering if any of you have seen this, and if you would sift and use the cayenne pepper or not?

I sifted out the bugs and with them an equal number of red casings where apparently they hatched.

The spice went into a 250C oven for 10 minutes, but I'm still reluctant to use it - though I can't explain why really. I know that bugs get into lots of food and in general won't hurt anyone...

I've turned out today's sausage without going into this batch of cayenne, but won't have enough for tomorrow without buying $$$$$ at the grocery store before my new supply arrives.

Comments?
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Re: Bugs in the cayenne pepper!

Postby vagreys » Tue May 13, 2014 9:03 pm

I wouldn't for a variety of reasons. The volatile oils in cayenne, which give it flavor and aroma, volatilize (i.e., become a vapor and leave the plant at temps below 40°C (if you can smell it, that's volatile oil not in the cayenne, anymore). Zapping it in the oven like you did also zapped flavor and aroma, and possibly heat. I wouldn't use it for that reason, alone. But wait, there's more. You've had thousands of little beetles and larvae crawling around in that powder, leaving behind silk and cocoons, egg cases, eggs, feces and formic acid. Nothing I would want to put in a sausage for myself or anyone else. JMO, of course.
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Re: Bugs in the cayenne pepper!

Postby RodinBangkok » Tue May 13, 2014 11:27 pm

Except for flour, we portion large bags and hot seal on arrival, this allows us to do a qc check at that point also so its not a surprise at the last minute if something is awry the qc check also triggers payment if passed. It's impossible to really filter them, I'd toss it.
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Re: Bugs in the cayenne pepper!

Postby Thewitt » Wed May 14, 2014 2:25 am

My supplier came thru with a courier delivery this morning, so I am all set. I've tossed the old bag - much to the horror of my staff.

Interesting that my supplier recommended the oven treatment, said it was commonly used to kill anything that might be in bulk spices when they purchase by the ton...

If the beetle eggs were in the spice when it arrived, would a pre screen have caught it? The bag was sealed when I opened it, so they were not introduced here, but came with the spice.

My supplier suggested storing cayenne and paprika in the freezer to avoid any possible problems in the future.
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Re: Bugs in the cayenne pepper!

Postby badjak » Wed May 14, 2014 6:21 am

Yep, putting it in the freezer sounds like a good plan.
We routinely do that with any spices we buy in bulk.
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Re: Bugs in the cayenne pepper!

Postby RodinBangkok » Wed May 14, 2014 10:32 am

Yes, should have been more detailed, we portion and freeze most of our bulk spices. It just keeps any new varmits out and helps maintain freshness. We have a problem here with some whole spices with mold, especially whole mace. So freezing is a good way to keep that under control. We do incoming inspections mostly for other things, like mold, inconsistent grind, and other things like stems and such found in some leaf spices. You might think the bags are sealed, but the little buggers can get in about anywhere. I've never oven treated anything, just used the freezer. I'd still recommend doing an incoming, portioning helps us as it keeps messing with very large opened bags and potential contamination.
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Re: Bugs in the cayenne pepper!

Postby Thewitt » Thu May 15, 2014 1:23 pm

I have found issues with mace in the past and have been keeping that in the freezer for months. I cannot even get ground mace any more, so I've stopped trying.

I generally don't purchase more of any given spice than I will go through in a month, so long term storage is not really something I've given much thought to. It looks like the walk in is going to have a spice corner now and we are going to start a more active incoming inspection and portioning process.
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Re: Bugs in the cayenne pepper!

Postby vagreys » Thu May 15, 2014 9:15 pm

Reading up on the cutworms has been horrifying. I certainly wouldn't subject dried herbs and spices to any more heat than absolutely necessary, myself. It has horrible impacts on the quality of some of the more delicate ones, essentially turning some into sawdust with a hint of flavor. I can't imagine it being good for the chiles to be treated the way your supplier says they treat them. Glad you were able to receive a replacement shipment so quickly. Interrupting production sucks.
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