Introduction: Fruits and their products in the dried form are good sources of vitamins, energy and minerals. However, during the process of drying or dehydration there are changes in quality parameters in dried products. Texture is one of the most important quality attributes of fruits during drying, reflecting their mechanical and microstructural properties. Apple is perishable fruit. Drying of apple is very important because of High losses are experienced during the seasonal glut. A novel process in food industry is the simultaneous infrared dry blanching and dehydration operation (SIRDBD) with intermittent heating method (radiation at constant temperature) exerted on fruits and vegetables that is known to enhance the quality of the final product. In the food industry, end-products must achieve a compromise between several properties, including sensory, sanitary and technological properties. Prediction of changes in texture during drying could be helpful in a better process control and improvement in overall acceptability of a dried snack food. The change of the elastic or viscoelastic texture of the fresh apples to rigid, fragile and brittle in the apple chips were evaluated by instrumental and sensory methods. Many attempts have been made to describe the viscoelastic behavior of dehydrated fruits and vegetables. Maxwell’s or compression models are limited to homogeneous, isotropic materials. In contrast, texture profile analysis (TPA) is more suitable for heterogeneous biological materials and shows a good correlation with organoleptic evaluation. Typical TPA parameters are including hardness, adhesiveness, springiness, cohesiveness, gumminess, chewiness and resilience. In this research, for the first time, textural analysis of dried apple slices by infrared heating at different temperatures and different moisture levels was performed. Finally, the optimum texture and overall acceptance of the product are described according to the instrumental analysis.
Materials and methods: Apples (Golden Delicious variety) were purchased from a local market and kept in 0°C±1°C and relative humidity ranging from 90% to 95%. Before every thermal processing, the apple specimens were picked up from the cold storage and then they were put into use after reaching the ambient temperature. The samples were skinned manually and then cut into slices with different thicknesses of 5mm, 9mm and 13mm, all 20mm in diameter. The sliced apples were immediately subjected to simultaneous blanching and infrared drying. The texture of dehydrated apple slices using infrared radiation at three surface temperatures of 70, 75 and 80 °C were studied. The product in three thicknesses was dried to achieve a moisture level of 15, 20 and 25% wet weight basis. Then, texture profile analysis (TPA) was carried out to 50% compression strain using texture analyzer. The sensory evaluation of dried slices was also considered for desire texture (Good mouth feels texture, lack of hard tissue, no shrinkage) and overall acceptance (The final acceptability of the product in terms of total sensory properties including color, texture, flavor and aroma) by 10 professional panelists. For statistical analysis, a completely randomized design (CRD) was used in a factorial form (33) and Duncan test with 95% confidence level.
Result & Discussion: The results showed that drying to studied moisture levels reduced the hardness and adhesiveness and increased springiness, cohesiveness, gumminess, chewiness and resilience in comparison with raw apple tissue. Hardness of samples dried at higher temperature was higher due to rapid removal of moisture which might have caused collapse of capillary voids inside the product. Due to shrinkage samples became denser and thus a larger fracture force was to be expected. As water content increases (i.e., higher RH) water plasticizes the cell walls and the material and product becomes softer and more pliable, thus hardness decreases. The increase of hardness could be because the rapid mass transfer that damaged the membrane and cell structure of the fruits during drying. Another important factor responsible for the increase of hardness of finish-dried samples is the low final moisture content when compared with other samples. High temperature drying method enables samples to reach low moisture content at relatively short duration and therefore the product with harder texture was obtained. The maximum value of adhesiveness was observed for fresh apples, which could be attributed to the high moisture and sugar content. Adhesiveness decreased with moisture loss, indicating the availability of free water on the sample surface. A significant decrease in springiness following high-temperature drying could be attributed to the glass transition phenomenon and changes from elastic to plastic behavior. In the period of softening, cohesiveness increased with moisture loss. Hardening caused a decrease in cohesiveness depending on the drying temperature. Gumminess is the energy required to disintegrate a semisolid food to a state of readiness for swallowing. High values of gumminess revealed “firm” and “crisp” with a cell rupture mode of tissue failure and lowest values of gumminess could be classified as “soft”. At the end of drying and with apple hardening, chewiness increased to values equal or above initial chewiness, indicating that a larger amount of energy is needed to masticate dried apples. Resilience had increasing with moisture loss. By increasing the thickness of the slices, the cohesiveness and springiness decreased and hence chewiness significantly decreased. The overall acceptance and desire texture in dried samples was observed at lower water evaporation rate conditions (lower temperatures, lower thickness and higher moisture content). In these conditions, the hardness of apple slices tissue was equal to 695.177 ± 7.685 grams. During drying of the apple, textural behavior was varied from the viscoelastic (higher initial hardness, with cohesiveness, springiness and lower resilience) to elastic and then to plastic or glassy.