From nature to the table

Pepper, sage, paprika, rosemary, cloves... from these spices and herbs precious natural aromas are extracted which give a special touch to our recipes and enrich the taste of the meat, fish and vegetables in our dishes.

The transformation process that brings these condiments from their places of origin to our tables is long and careful. Europrodotti carries it out with care and patience to preserve the precious organoleptic properties of the ingredients and at the same time to respect the strict food safety rules that protect our health.

The processing of aromatic herbs and spices

   1. The harvesting

The first processing phase already takes place during harvesting in the fields, an operation that is carried out at specific moments of the season or even of a day. The leaves of herbs such as rosemary, thyme, parsley, chives or chervil should be harvested immediately before the plant blooms, in the morning after the dew has evaporated. Mustard, cumin, fennel and sesame seeds are harvested when the fruits have become dry.

Harvesting must be carried out with the utmost respect for the plants. This means limiting the quantity of leaves that are collected, never exceeding ten percent of all foliage, so as not to cause trauma to the plant that could weaken it and even lead to its death.

   2. The selection

The herbs and spices are then manually selected discarding the parts damaged by time or insects. This step must be carried out very delicately because excessive pressure, even from the fingers, is enough to cause the loss of the essential oils.

   3. The extraction

At this stage aromatic compounds and essential oils are extracted from herbs and spices. The aroma extraction methods (Behind the scenes of natural flavors) have already been illustrated in a previous article to which we refer for further information. Here we only add that the steam distillation system is the most used because it offers the best ratio between cost and effectiveness and is applicable to the majority of herbs and spices.

   4. The purification and refining

After extraction natural flavors still contain unwanted substances which are eliminated with further distillation or filtering. The filtering procedure can be performed with the following systems:

  • filtering earths, in particular with diatomaceous earths;
  • centrifuges;
  • membranes or sheets;
  • tangential filters, where the aromatic liquid does not fall directly onto the filter but flows over it, depositing impurities on its surface.
   5. The formulation

The extracted natural aromas can be combined in various proportions to create formulations suitable for different uses, not only in the food sector but also in the cosmetics or pharmaceuticals ones. The formulation process allows to enhance or attenuate a spicy, salty, sweet or bitter note according to the needs or to create different nuances, for example a more wild, delicate or seasoned taste.

   6. The sensory evaluation

At this point the natural flavor is subjected to a quality test and sensory evaluation to ensure that it meets the desired standards of scent, taste and consistency. Even if today there are technologies capable of precisely analyzing these parameters, the human element is still irreplaceable. Therefore this task is entrusted to sensory analysts, specialists in taste and smell who, with their senses trained by years of practice, are able to identify and correct even the smallest anomalies and lead to a perfect aroma.

   7. The stabilization and conservation

In this phase the product is subjected to stabilization and conservation processes to ensure that the natural aromas maintain their quality and integrity unaltered over time. The use of natural preservatives protects them from enzymes, microbes and oxidation processes which cause the deterioration of food or which can alter its flavor or aroma.

   8. The packaging and distribution

Flavors are now ready to be used by the food industry, by restaurant chefs and in the kitchens of our homes. The packages make a further contribution to their conservation by protecting them from air and contaminants, ensuring the integrity of the product and providing important information on the origins, characteristics, methods of use and expiry date.

Once packaged the aromas reach the warehouses of catering companies and the shelves of supermarkets, from where they will complete the final step which will lead them to the preparation of tasty condiments for first courses, second courses and side dishes.

Organic farming guarantees that herbs and spices are grown naturally. Europrodotti ensures that respect for nature and our health continues along the entire supply chain that transforms the fruits of the earth into those precious aromas that enrich our culinary heritage.

The aromas and the senses
Health and wellness