Category Archives: Spice processing

R & D is key to the quality of Mc Currie

research and development

Mc Currie is always endeavouring to bring out its best for customers. Today’s customers can rely on a quality product due to the fact that our Research and Development Department studies every aspect of spices whether it’s in powder form, crushed etc. It is these spices that go to turn out our ready to eat jar products. Our Research and Development Deparment maps out product profiles that cover the history, ingredients, taste, culinary uses and medicinal benefits of the jar products, while raw products cover history/ introduction, plant characterization, chemistry, flavour, culinary uses and medicinal properties. At Mc Currie we consider it our responsibility to ensure that our customers are served with the best product along with the backing of our R&D department of highly skilled individuals.


The Rush for Ethnic Foods and Ingredients on a Background of Curtailment or Complete Eradication of Cancer


Americans have come to want more ethnic food and ingredients in their diet. It may not have been so some years ago. It may be due to the medicinal values that ethnic ingredients contain. As it is widely known, lots of spices have valuable medicinal qualities that play an important role in curing or at least bringing relief to some major illnesses.

Although ethnic food offers flavours that are powerful and distinct, their indulgence subtly brings in an amazing amount of nutritional and health benefits.

Studies have revealed that spices have a range of health benefits. Although all countries and races bear the burden of cancer and there is not one country in the world that is not affect, studies have revealed that the highest incidence of cancer are in western countries. It might be interesting to note that the cancer rate in India is considerably lower than those in more developed countries, such as the United States. However, some say that India has a high cancer rate. Although this has been said, it is interesting to note that India does not occupy a slot in the Global Statistic Rates of Cancer in the ten worst countries, which are predominantly western countries.

It is the writer’s opinion that the reason for the low rate of cancer in India is the consumption of spices that has led to the curtailment of the disease. It is really the western lifestyle that is to be blamed for the high percentage of cancer in these countries.

Cancer fighting spices are Garlic, Turmeric and Rosemary. If one sits back and ponders, none of these spices are used in abundance in western countries. For example, Garlic has immune enhancing alluim compounds that appear to increase the activity of immune cells that fight cancer and indirectly help break down cancer causing substances. These substances also help block carcinogens from entering cells and slow tumor development. According to Dr. Lenore Arab, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who compiled a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Issue 2000, people who consume raw or cooked garlic regularly, face about half the risk of stomach cancer and two thirds of the risk of colorectal cancer, as people who eat little or none. It is believed that garlic may help prevent stomach cancer because it has anti-bacterial effects against a bacterium, Helicobacter Pylori, found in the stomach and known to promote cancer there.

In the Michigan Daily, it was reported that Turmeric may help fight cancer. Preliminary evidence suggests that turmeric can enhance the cancer fighting power of treatment with Tumor Necrosis Factory-Related Apoptosis Inducing Ligand (TRAIL), a naturally occurring molecule used to kill cancer cells. According to a study, author Subhash Gautam, a Researcher at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, he says, “Using these two agents – Turmeric and TRAIL, we killed up to 80% of cells in culture, which is remarkable.”

The sulfur-containing compounds that give garlic its pungent odor are also responsible for its role as a cancer-fighting food. The National Cancer Institute “recognizes garlic as one of several vegetables with potential anticancer properties,” noting that garlic may help support good health by:

• Blocking the formation of cancer-causing substances
• Halting the activation of cancer-causing substances
• Enhancing DNA repair
• Reducing cell proliferation
• Inducing cell death
• Providing antibacterial properties

Population studies have shown that increased intake of garlic may help reduce the risk of several types of cancer, including stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, and breast.

To get the most benefits, garlic should be eaten in fresh form and chopped or crushed first (this converts the beneficial phytonutrient alliin into allicin, its active form). For general health, the World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends adults get “a daily dose of 2 to 5 g of fresh garlic (approximately one clove), 0.4 to 1.2 g of dried garlic powder, 2 to 5 mg of garlic oil, 300 to 1,000 mg of garlic extract, or other formulations that are equal to 2 to 5 mg of allicin.”

Remember that for the best cancer-preventive benefits, your diet should include a wide range of fruits and veggies — from oranges and apples to artichokes and pea pods. The more natural variety your meals offer, the more nutrients — and the greater cancer protection — you and your family will receive.

Why Mc Currie Brand of Spices are a household name locally and internationally..?

McCurrie_secretsMc Currie brand of spices are produced at our Factory in Makumbura Pannipitiya under stringent quality measures.

We have throughout the years packed unadulterated and contamination free whole/ground and blended spices, including curry powders. Our range of products has extended, over the years, in to ready-to-eat jar products, which are favourites among our clientele and no doubt proves the quality of the products.

Our quality is ensured in processing the product using modern machinery under the eagle eyed supervision of trained food technologists. The reason for our increased clientele is the high quality and consistent standards maintained by our laboratory.

Our raw materials are purchased from the most reliable of sources.

Processing commences with the fumigation of raw materials. The materials are stored under the highest hygienic conditions, with regular quality checks.

Our Machinery used in the process have been carefully chosen and designed by world renowned machinery suppliers for the packing of whole, ground and blended spices and the filling of ready-to-eat bottled products. Our machinery is continually upgraded to meet the norms of modern technology.

Sophisticated cleaning and classifying machines are used, metal impurities are magnetically removed, followed by removal of dust and other impurities. The classifier removed any other dissimilar material to the product. The de-stoner very efficiently separates stones and other grit.

Ongoing quality checks are a daily necessity and are made to grade the products for packing as a whole spice or pass it on for roasting and grinding as necessary. Roasting enhances flavor and aroma. This is done under controlled conditions to ensure the traditional exotic flavours.

Special Grinders uses disintegrators designed to permit powdering of spices without metal to metal contact. Its high capacity chamber induces air and eliminates any heating of the product, preventing any deterioration of volatiles or essential oils. Thus the product retains pungency, flavor, taste and aroma.

Blending of spices and curry powders are done to suit consumer taste and specifications on a high efficiency line of machinery.

Our packing is of high class and we resort to stream-lined packing machinery and the very popular vacuum packing process.

For all of what we have said above to be put on the right track, we are proud of our employees who work with dedication and commitment to bring you, our customer, the Spice of Life that is Mc Currie.

Processing of Chillies

When we buy chillies off the grocery store, we just buy them and cook them. We don’t ask ourselves how they are processed or how or what stages do chilies go through in the factory? We at Mc Currie are going to educate you on how this desired spice gets processed. There are two steps in the chillie processing that the chilli has to undergo, which are cleaning and Drying.

Chillies 2

Cleaning Process
Before processing, the chillies have to be cleaned. In the first stage of the cleaning process, dust and dirt should be removed using a winnowing basket. After winnowing the chillies, they need to be washed in 3 15 litre buckets. For larger quantities of chillies a 1m cube sink with a plug hole must be constructed. To avoid contamination, the water should be changed frequently. Only water used for consumption should be used to wash the chillies.
Drying is the most important step in the processing of chillies. This is because. If the chillies are not dried is could lead to the growth of mould, cause discoloration and lead to the entire process slowing down. Any produce with a slight amount of mould cannot be used for processing. The presence of mould on chillies will drop the market value of the chilli by at least 50%.
Dry Season
During the dry season, what is known as sun drying is adequate to dry the produce. This method is done by simply laying the chillies on a mat under the sun. The problem with this method is dust and microbes could get blown on to the chillies and unexpected rain could wet it.
For all your spice needs please visit the Mc Currie website.

History of Chilli

Today many consumers, including you, consume Mc Currie chilli daily. But not many know the history behind the fruit. Mc Currie would like to educate you on the history of the chilli that adds a spicy pleasure to our foods.

How was chilli spread initially?

Prior to humans spreading chilli through the chilli trade, it was the birds that were responsible for the spread from continent to continent. Birds are immune to the spicy effects of chilli. Therefore, to them chillies are a source of food which aided in the spreading of chilli seeds. The global spread of chilli by humans escalated when Christopher Columbus, the man credited with its discovery, was introdred chilliesuced to it by the Arawak, the natives of the Caribbean region at the time. It was in 1492, when he brought back samples of chilli to Spain, did its accelerated global spread begin. It was Spain’s answer to breaking the backbone of the black pepper trade that was being monopolized by the Portuguese.

What were the origins of chilli?

The first and earliest evidence of human use of chilli dates back to 7000 BC Thuacan Valley, Mexico. Back then, chillies were harvested by locals on wild plants. Archeologists believe that it was between the years 5200-3400BC that humans first started to cultivate chilli plants. Initially the most common form of consumption was as a drink called chicahuatl, the ancestral drink to chocolate made by the Aztecs in Mexico. It was made of cocoa beans, chillies, corn and water.

Early documentations of chilli

The first known and recognized documentation of chilli was in the Floretine Codex, written by Father Bernadino de Sahagun in the year 1577. It was a hand written encyclopedia that documented the Aztec culture and how almost every meal involved the use of chilli. In 1543, The New Herbal, written by German physician and botanist Leonhard Fuchs, described in intimate detail the different varieties of chilli. And in 1609, Garcilaso de la Vega described how the Incas worshipped the chilli as Agar-Uchu, a brother in the Incan story of creation.

We will cover how Chilli gets its distinctive taste in our next post in the Chilli series. Stay tuned for more! Visit the Mc Currie website for all your spice needs.

Spice processing: Turmeric

Turmeric root

Turmeric is a rhizome belonging to the ginger family. The crop requires a temperature between 20°C and 30°C and considerable rainfall and is therefore mainly grown in tropical South Asia. Turmeric can be used as a rhizome itself but requires further processing to be used as a powder in curries. At Mc Currie, we train our suppliers on how best to do this with our experience and technical expertise.

The harvest of the turmeric should be after 8-9 months after the crop is planted. The pods should be washed to remove traces of soil and dirt. The fingers must then be removed from the parent pods. The mother bulb and fingers have to be separated. The roots are cut out from the fingers and mother bulbs. The bulb and the fingers are then steamed to prevent the enzyme curcumin from causing enzymatic browning. The steaming process is complete when the fingers develop a characteristic smell and breaking them produces strands or fibres. This takes approximately 25 – 30 minutes. The turmeric is cooked by the end of the process and a small pin would pass smoothly through the finger.

The bulbs and fingers are then left to dry in the shade (not under direct sunlight) for one or two days to slowly cool them. At the end of the two days, they are exposed to direct sunlight for three or four days to completely dry them. The fingers should be brittle and easy to break at the end of the drying process. They should not be rubbery. The colour of the fingers should be dark orange on the inside. A blackish orange colour means the turmeric has been dried quickly and not given enough time in the shade.

Once the turmeric finger is well dried, the outer skin is removed to polish the turmeric. A rough surface with projections is used to polish the turmeric. A yellowish orange colour indicates that polishing is complete. 75% of the outer skin has to be removed to be considered as good quality turmeric. The turmeric is then placed in an air chamber or blower fan to remove the dusk and remaining skin.

The turmeric fingers can now be transferred to gunny bags and should be stored in a cool and dry place. The lot is now ready for the market and for further processing.

Visit the Mc Currie website for all your spice needs!

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