How to measure and analyse the texture of food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and adhesives.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Measuring the Texture of Added Flavours to Food

Measuring Powdered/Granulated Ingredients
Stock cubes Everyone knows the incomparable taste of 
homemade sauces and gravies, painstakingly created from a fond or bouillon, formed by the prolonged simmering of bones, offcuts of meat and vegetables. 
Whilst the flavour is unmistakable, their preparation is extremely time-consuming and expensive. The food manufacturer has available a wide range of ingredients that can be used to create sauces and gravies with relative ease and convenience. Bouillon powders or cubes are commonly available.

Measuring Stock (Bouillon) Cube Hardness 
Bouillon cubes are convenient and inexpensive and as such are widely used in Western cooking to add flavour, particularly in soups, stews and casseroles.

Penetration test on a stock cube using a Cylinder Probe
Penetration test on a stock cube
using a Cylinder Probe
Bouillon cubes or stock cubes are usually individually foil-wrapped dehydrated cubes that are meant to dissolve easily to make delicious stock, or crumble directly into your cooking sauce to make your family favourites even tastier. The hardness and fracturability of the cube will determine the ease with which the cube can be broken up over the cooking vessel to be quickly incorporated. 

Storage life and ingress of moisture are two examples of potential causes of change of the sample, affecting the hardness and the brittleness of the cube, which can subsequently affect the customer satisfaction.

Typical Texture Analyser plot comparing beef and chicken stock cubes
Typical Texture Analyser plot comparing
beef and chicken stock cubes
A Ball Probe attached to the Texture Analyser to perform a penetration test is a quick and simple means of determining both the hardness and fracturability of these cubes, to provide quantitative measures of the primary textural characteristics of the product.

Testing Powdered Ingredients

Whilst Bouillon is also available in granular form, the area of powdered materials is also where the essentials come to shine, the powdered soup section.

An innovation in the dried sauces and seasonings market, now often seen as the poor relation to liquid and ready-to-serve lines, appears to be regenerating as consumers are looking more often for a nutritious meal or snack when they are in a pinch for time.

There are now a wide selection of delicious pre-packaged soups that are just a bowl of hot water away but conveniently can be stored from 6 months up to 1 year. However, powdered materials are not without their problems which require control, understanding and a means of assessment and measurement.

Measuring Powder Flow
In the powdered soup and sauce industry, various types of particulate materials are mixed to create or improve the desired product qualities. However the formulation change of these materials can affect the bulk powder behaviour and flowability.

Powder Flow Analyser attached to the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser
Powder Flow Analyser
attached to the TA.XTplus
Texture Analyser
Dry powder flow characteristics have traditionally been subjectively measured by hand or by simple pouring methods. Such characteristics are dependent on many features including particle or granule size/shape and distribution; humidity or moisture content; surface properties including sorption; electrostatic charge; mixing kinetics; rest/flow transition; interparticulate and particle to contact surface frictions.

The Stable Micro Systems Powder Flow Analyser with Controlled Flow Measurement rapidly derives an objective value for the sample that characterises and ranks its performance when subjected to a specific test programme. Measurements can be used in product and process development, optimisation and quality control.

Patented blade for Controlled Flow Measurement
Patented blade for Controlled
Flow Measurement
Rotating Stable Micro Systems’ patented blade down and up through the sample achieves Controlled Flow. This innovative test method enables a wide range of sample flow modes to be achieved which offers you the ability to test in a manner that is complimentary to a process or need. The blade form provides optimum repeatability and sensitivity in controlling flow, from extremely gentle lifting through to aggressive compaction.

Exponent software can control the action of the test to be performed and subsequently analyse the data to determine, for example: Particle cohesion and flow after compaction; Resistance to compression; and Batch and source variation, from a range of standard tests such as Powder Flow Speed Dependence, Cohesion and Caking. The Powder Flow Analyser is installed and calibrated in minutes by straightforward force verification on the TA.XTplus/TA.HDplus Texture Analyser ready for use.

For more information on how to measure texture, please visit the Texture Analysis Properties section on our website.

TA.XTplus texture analyser with bloom jar The
TA.XTplus texture analyser is part of a family of texture analysis instruments and equipment from Stable Micro Systems. An extensive portfolio of specialist attachments is available to measure and analyse the textural properties of a huge range of food products. Our technical experts can also custom design instrument fixtures according to individual specifications.

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