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Peppermint Candy Hardness

Situation

Steel cylinder probe is used to measure confectionery hardness by compression

If you want to know the hardness of a peppermint candy, you can drop it from a given height onto a hard surface, and observe if and how it breaks. There is a better way though—and one in which you can provide objective measurement through repeatable mechanical testing. Using a computer-controlled texture analyzer, the hardness of a peppermint candy can be precisely measured, and by testing good samples, standard comparison data can be established for quality testing.

 

 

 

Method

Hard confectionery can be measured for peak break force to correlate to ideal texture

The test example shown here used a TMS-Pro Food Texture Analyzer fitted with a 2.5 kN (550 lbf) intelligent loadcell and 6 mm cylinder probe. The control program advanced the probe to touch the mint sample before progressing down a further 2 mm at 50 mm/min., a distance found to be enough to fracture the sample. The sample was held in a plastic bag simply to contain the fragments without interfering with the forces involved in the test. These peppermints failed somewhat catastrophically!

The TL-Pro software then automatically calculated the breaking force, and displayed graphically the traces of the test.

 

 

Results

Comparing samples graphically quickly highlights acceptable qualityThe graphical representation from TL-Pro, of the test results for the four samples, is shown here (force applied, against cumulative displacement).

Samples 4 and 6 appear to be outliers, one being excessively hard, the other fracturing too easily. The other samples are clustered in the middle, and can be used to provide standard comparison data for preferred hardness.

The same results with additional calculations are shown here.

comparison of peak compressive force correlates to bite effort

*most likely outliers

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

 

Significance

The hardness of this product can be somewhat variable, if these results are representative. When the two outlying results (samples 4 and 6) are removed, the average breaking force reduces slightly to 724.9 N and the standard deviation reduces significantly to 83.0. This puts the coefficient of variation (CV) at 8.73, much closer the acceptable level of 10%. A greater number of samples may be likely to produce results in this range with proportionally fewer outliers. When dealing with variation such as this, it is important to understand that not all test replications are going to produce ideal results. As with all food products, there will always be a degree of variation. The purpose of objective testing such as this, is to establish what is acceptable variation, as a measure of quality.

Trusted by customers across the world

Nestle purchased a texture system from Food Technology Corporation in 2006. Since then I have recommended the texture system to several vendors in North and Central America. Staff at FTC was able to develop a simple training manual and procedure for the texture system allowing easy training in short period of time.

From purchasing of equipment through to installation and start-up, the level of personal care and service was remarkable. Shirl Lakeway and his staff at Food Technology Corporation are patient and understanding, and are always at our disposal for any assistance. Since we bought the equipment we have had no problems and feel very secure knowing that we can count on FTC for their support and service.

Dr Mawele Shamaila, Nestle - USA
http://www.nestleusa.com/

Our experience with FTC has been more than satisfactory, not only for the quality of the equipment you’ve got but for the post selling service that has proved to be excellent.

Any problem that we had, it took nothing more than a simple mail or phone call to have your immediate answer. We want to thank you very much for the quality of service provided.

 

 

Gonzalo Moraes, Arrozur S.A. Montevideo – Uruguay

I have found FTC to be an excellent partner for our company. In particular, it has been especially gratifying to work with Shirl Lakeway. Both creative and accommodating, he worked very hard with us to develop our projects.

I appreciate his commitment to our joint efforts and his open-minded approach. He and FTC have been exceptionally helpful.

Steve Antonius, Del Monte Foods
http://www.delmonte.com/