Paprika oleoresin is a natural food additive used because of its ability to color foods a deep red.
Paprika oleoresin is a red-orange oily material and it is used to colour foods. It also has a slight odor. It is extracted from the common sweet red pepper, Capsicum annum L. In Hungarian, the word paprika refers to both the spice and the fresh pepper.
Paprika oleoresin may also be called paprika extract or oleoresin paprika. In Europe, it is designated with the E number 160c. It is similar to lycopene which has an E number of 160d.
Because it is derived from natural food sources it is exempt1 from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certification for food colourants.
To make paprika oleoresin, the peppers are harvested and dried. The peppers may be left whole, cut into pieces, or powdered. Then a solvent is percolated through the peppers. The solvent can be any one or a combination of the following:
Methylene chloride, or
The solvent is then removed, leaving the paprika oleoresin. Removing 100% of the solvent would be impossible. Some residue may remain in the final product.
The main components of paprika oleoresin are the xanthophylls, capsanthin, and capsorubin. These are the red components. and beta-carotene (the yellow component). All of these molecules are in a group of molecules called carotenoids.