The firmness/hardness of a product is one of the most widely used properties to gauge the texture of a food. A simple compression test is an easy and repeatable way to measure this characteristic. Meat products, such as sausages, can be evaluated for the bite force required (the product's shear resistance) by this method.
For this this test, an entire cocktail sausage was placed on the system. The compression plate moved down to a predetermined point and then returned back to the starting point.
At the conclusion of the test, the TL software was used to measure the maximum force that occurred during the test. This information can then be correlated to the process and the formulation, giving the producer valuable information relating to their product.
Case Study: Cocktail Sausage Shear Resistance
Firmness of products can be measured in a number of different ways. For this test, a 25.4mm cylinder was used to measure the inner meat of a ground salami product.
Individual samples were cut from whole salami using a template. Each piece was approximately 1 inch in height when placed on the texture analyzer. The perspex cylinder fixture then moved down and penetrated into the product a set distance.
The peak force measured by the TL Software was then used to show a difference between ideal and off spec product. The goal was be able to objectively see the difference in the two sample groups, which this test clearly does.
Case Study: Salami Firmness
Ground and reformed meat products are often tested with the Kramer Shear Cell. The shear is ideal because its design allows the fixture to take into account the variation that is inherent in ground reconstituted meat products.
For testing of chicken patties, a template was used to cut the samples, after thawing, to a shape that fits the sample box of the shear cell. During the test, the blades moved down to compress and shear through the product. The resistance created by this is measured by the software controlling the texture analyzer. The software is used to calculate the peak force that occurs during the test, which correlates directly to the firmness of the product.
Firmness can then be associated with several processing factors like the grind of the meat (coarse or fine) and fat content, allowing for quality control decisions to be made with more objective data.
Case Study: Chicken Patty Shear Resistance
The Kramer Shear Cell is used on a wide range of products, such as reconstituted non-homogeneous foodstuffs. As sausage balls are a ground meat product, this test method is an excellent way to quality test this meat.
For each test replication, a sample was weighed and then placed into the sample box. The blades move down to both compress and shear through the product. At the end of testing, a variable product is compared to a control product using the peak force (firmness) of the sample.
By performing testing and comparison studies such as this, the processor can accurately correlate how certain processing variables can affect the final texture of the sausage product.
Case Study: Sausage Ball Firmness