Apart from taste, the texture of the food also plays a role in deciding the quality of the food and the eating experience it gives to the eaters. Food Rheology is a scientific process that helps in understanding the consistency of food, which can further help in determining the shelf life of a particular food. Building on this method, some researchers have developed an improved process to study the texture of food. This can pre-detect if the food will be soft and smooth to eat like noodles, or will it be crunchy like chips, or thick and dense like cookies. This science of producing better tasting food is likely to help make foods with better texture that will give people a more enjoyable experience in biting, chewing and swallowing it.
The study was published in the journal 'Physics of Fluids' by AIP Publishing. The old methods could not determine accurately the time-dependent properties of food - how long it will remain stable and stay edible before turning bad. The team of researchers led by Taiki Yoshida, Yuji Tasaka and Peter Fischer combined the traditional rheological testing methods with inner visualization techniques and ultrasonic imaging and came out with better processing system.
(Also Read: Food Texture: How Important is it?)
Different foods have different texture
To test the updated method, they used Fruiche, a popular Japanese dessert, which is made of fruit pulp and whole milk that transforms into a gelled form with an egg carton-shaped structure. The fruit was chosen as it had a complex structure and the researchers aimed to capture motion inside its liquid material.
Lead researcher Yoshida explained, "Evaluation of food rheology with time dependence is challenging target," Based on the equation of motion, the ultrasonic spinning rheometry method can evaluate instantaneous rheological properties from the measured velocity profiles, so it can present true rheological properties and their time dependence from the perspective of physics of fluids."
The new ultrasonic spinning rheometry method that was developed by the researchers can measure linear viscoelasticity and phase lag simultaneously in an opaque liquid, and also capture information about complex rheological properties. This can be applied in chemical engineering processes for successfully understanding polymerisation and dispersion densities in complex fluids such as clay.