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Pasta Stickiness

Situation

Pasta shape stickiness samplesIs well-cooked pasta the same as pasta that is cooked well? The elusive ‘al dente’ condition is a description relating to the firmness (or texture) of cooked pasta, but how sticky the product is also has a critical influence on the consumer’s perception of the perfect serving. Traditionally, a technician simply pinched a sample piece between their fingers to make a subjective decision. Despite being highly-trained, the method results in variation so an objective way of measuring the stickiness is needed. A food texture analyzer provides a repeatable test in order to better understand the effect of processing and cooking times on the quality of the product.

 

 

 

Method

Pasta shape compression testTo demonstrate this, a Food Technology Corporation (FTC) TMS-Pro Texture Analyzer was fitted with a 500 N intelligent loadcell and a 75mm diameter compression plate. Overcooking pasta produces a product that is stickier, because it allows more time for starch to be released. For the control batch, a serving of farfalle (or bowtie) pasta was cooked according to the supplier’s recommended instructions of 12-14 minutes in boiling water to achieve the ‘al dente’ texture. The overcooked sample remained in the water for 18 minutes. The batch of cooked pasta was rinsed briefly in a colander to cool, then an individual piece removed and immediately tested.

For each test, the sample was placed on the lower table and the TL-Pro test program moved the compression plate down to a distance of 1 mm from the table. The program paused the plate for 3 seconds to allow the pasta to stick to the surfaces and then moved the plate back up at a speed of 250 mm/min. The software program recorded the force exerted on the load cell from after the pause, and on completion of the test cycle, automatically calculated the negative peak value. For each repeat of the test, both contact surfaces were cleaned and dried to ensure consistent test conditions.

 

Results

The graphical representation from TL-Pro, of a typical test result for each sample, is shown here (force applied, against cumulative displacement), starting from the maximum compression as the plate moves back up.

Pasta shape compression test results graph

The graph shows a reducing compression force as the pasta relaxes back to shape, as the plate moves upwards. The curve crosses the X-axis as tension due to stickiness occurs and then reduces. This trough indicates the force exerted by the sticking of the pasta to the table and compression plate.

The same results with additional calculations are shown here.

Pasta shape compression test chart

  • Average = arithmetic mean
  • SD = standard deviation
  • CV = coefficient of variation(SD/Mean) x 100

 

Significance

The results here show that a food texture analyzer is able objectively to measure the stickiness of pasta providing confidence in the recommended cooking time. Despite the relatively small difference (approximately 4 minutes) the overcooked sample was measurably stickier than the control sample. The benefits of this technique are clear, and its applicability to any shape of pasta product as a means of accurately evaluating the effect of formulation or cooking parameters, further emphasizes its suitability. The processor will now be able to make quick and reliable decisions based on objective data that has been correlated with established sensory information.

Trusted by customers across the world

My first contact with FTC was through buying texture analyzer equipment as my area of interest is Rheology. We faced a problem operating the appliance. The company tried hard to help us through the internet, but the University thought it was better to send me to the company branch located in England. I received a highly advanced training course for 10 days free of charge. They provided me with programs that operate the equipment along with the information needed.

It was a great effort and outstanding support. I would like to thank Shirl Lakeway and FTC for providing me with this opportunity and for his continuous help. Finally, I encourage researchers who are interested in the physical properties of foods and dairy to choose FTC as it is a respectable and dependable company and offers the best deals concerning prices and training with different languages, such as Arabic for the Middle East.

Professor Hoda El-Zeini, Dairy Science and Agriculture University - Cairo, Egypt
Professor
https://cu.edu.eg

As a seasonal vegetable processor, understanding crop maturity and the accuracy of this measurement is key to staying ahead of crop and knowing when to make the move from value to premium product as harvest time constraints permit.

The TU units provided by FTC give us the accuracy to work to much tighter tolerances, replacing older less accurate analogue equipment which in turn can affect final product grading and profitability.

The units are well designed, very low maintenance and are backed up with a strong support service which will allow them to provide many years of accurate, reliable service.

Colven Wilson
Technical Manager
http://www.eyefreeze.co.uk/

As a Meat Scientist and program leader for the University of Nevada, Reno, I need to ensure that equipment I use in my lab is reliable, durable, versatile, and accurate. For texture analysis of meats, there are many systems available in the market. Over the last 15 years of my career, I¹ve worked with many of them and had great and bad experiences with different brands.

Last year, I decided to try a different system for my lab, the TMS-Pro Texture Analyzer from Food Technology Corporation. The system has all the attributes I was expecting to conduct texture and shear force analysis in a quick and not complicated way. The customer support provided by them is outstanding and their technicians are always ready to walk me through new procedures and initial set up. If you are looking for a reliable system for food texture analysis and special customer service, the TMS-Pro is the system to go for and the Food Technology Corporation is the one that can deliver the support.

Amilton de Mello
Assistant Professor of Agriculture, Meat Science and Food Safety
https://www.unr.edu/anvs