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Texture Analysis Professionals Blog

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

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

The Volscan Profiler in Food Research

The Volscan Profiler with a sample of butter
The Volscan Profiler was originally designed for use with bakery products. However, its use has exploded into other industries in the past few years, both food- and non-food-based. Not only is volume critical to bakery products, it is also an important physical property of agricultural products, meat, fish and packaging.

Agricultural products have the characteristic of being ‘low value added’ when compared with other industrial commodities. As a result, the application of state-of-the-art technology to the agricultural sector has been slow; it is only in relatively recent times that various up-to-date techniques have reached the point of practical implementation.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Texture Analysis in Research: 3D Printing in the Bakery Industry

3D printing food samples
3D printing has made a large impact in many sectors, but its entry into the food industry has not been a simple journey. The first difficulty to overcome is the range of food products that have until now been printable. Additionally, the properties of finished 3D printed products require a large amount of research (texture and rheology as well as colours and general appearance) and development along with the printing conditions to achieve them (such as temperature, speeds and raw materials).

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Measuring the Stiffness of Hair

New Hair Stiffness Rig
Analytical technology can help the hair industry substantiate ambitious marketing claims about shampoos and conditioners that claim to leave hair soft and manageable, make hair look more youthful or increase volume. When a hair product is marketed, certain claims are written on the packaging or in adverts with statements regarding its performance and efficacy. These claims must be substantiated with laboratory testing to prevent misleading consumers and going against legislation – manufacturers cannot assert that products have properties they do not have. The test used is determined by the claim being made. E.g. a claim for ‘improved softness’ might be substantiated with a bending test using a newly available Hair Stiffness Rig.

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Texture Analysis in Research: Microneedles

Microneedle (MN) arrays – minimally-invasive devices used to penetrate the skin’s outermost layer
Microneedle (MN) arrays are minimally-invasive devices used to penetrate the skin’s outermost layer, the stratum corneum, the principal barrier to topically-applied drugs. They are widely used in a range of applications including cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Their use involves a simple, cheap, safe, and effective technique requiring minimal training. Microneedles were originally used as a collagen induction therapy for facial scars and skin rejuvenation, and still are, but are also now widely used in the form of patches as a transdermal delivery system for therapeutic drugs and vaccines. 

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Texture Analysis in Research: Incorporation of Insects as Ingredients in the Bakery Industry

Research is happening into a range of insects that can be used in baked products
Back in December 2019, Roberts Bakery in Norwich were the first UK bakery to launch a loaf of bread containing cricket flour. The uptake from other bakeries has been slow in the UK; customers will take some convincing before they overcome their trepidation to eat insects. However, it is likely that insects will become a regular part of our diets in years to come.

Insects such as crickets provide a protein source with a high feed-conversion efficiency rate (an animal's capacity to convert feed into increased body mass). They also require much less water than traditional protein sources such as poultry or cattle. Health benefits of insect consumption include their high antioxidant power and chitinous fibre content, as well as the upside of a higher protein content in whichever food they are added to. The challenge lies in introducing insect protein into the Western diet. This has to begin with ingredient replacement in existing foods, one example of which is bakery products, as these act to familiarise consumers with insect-based food.

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Food Texture: Design by 3D printing

The food industry is experiencing a paradigm shift. People’s growing awareness of the food that they consume and the drive for new customized sensory experiences is pushing for the development of new technologies that can satisfy these new consumers’ standards. One of these novel technologies, 3D Printing, has been around for a while, however, only in 2007 was it applied for the first time in the production of food structures.

This technology has attracted a lot of attention for its versatility and potential application in various production sectors, such as aerospace, electronics, architecture, and medicine but it is becoming more apparent that in the food production sector this technology has the potential to be used to create personalised food products, enabling the creation of food products with specific design characteristics, flavours and colours, geometric structures, textures, and nutritional profiles.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Enhancing Textures: An Introduction to the Hydrocolloid Universe

With names like Ultra-Tex 3, Methocel F50, and agar agar, hydrocolloids sound like they’re meant for science fiction novels, not our pantries. However, these seemingly mysterious white powders are incredibly valuable in food development and can provide fun new textural experiences. Derived from natural sources (like seaweed, tapioca, and plant matter), hydrocolloids have been used for centuries to thicken foods and enhance textures. From spherification to stabilisation, hydrocolloids can help you make fancy foams, delicious gummy candies, and intriguing fluid gels.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Confectionery: Texture Geekery

What makes chewy candies so appealing? Texture is a huge part of it. That’s why a lot of professional chefs love making candy—manipulating texture is what chefs do. Professional confectioners, too, are masters of texture, and they’re seriously well schooled in the ingredients that go into our favourite confections.

For every piece of chewy candy, there are a few key elements that dictate texture: Soluble solids control the firmness of a certain product. Gums control the “bite” (supple, snappy, or brittle, for example). And fat and air soften the texture in a way that soluble solids alone cannot. Candies like Starburst, for example, seem hard at first but then yield to your bite. It’s the high concentration of soluble solids that makes them hard; incorporating air and fat, meanwhile, makes the texture soft enough to chew.