COLORANT EXTRACTION FROM RED PRICKLY PEAR (OPUNTIA LASIACANTHA) FOR FOOD APPLICATION
The research on alternative natural colorants is of growing interest as substitutes for synthetic dyes in food. Opuntia lasiacantha Pfeiffer (red prickly pear) pigment was extracted from fruits of three different localities. The extracted pigment was identified as betanin by HPLC analysis comparing to the commercial beet red colorant E-162/1600. Color parameters and betanin content were also determined and no significant differences were found for the betanin content among the studied sites. Pigments extracted from fruits gathered from location L1 were spray dried using maltodextrin as coating material. After 24 weeks of storage color parameters and pigment retention were measured. Pigment retention was 86.2%±3.9 similar to the values found in the red beet pigment. The obtained results suggest that the colorant from red prickly pear can be considered a potential source of natural colorant.