Pickled Gherkin Crunchiness

Situation

If you want to know the crunchiness of a pickle: bite it. Expert testers are relied on throughout the food industry, but can you objectively quantify crunchiness, and use this to assure product consistency, or improve manufacture? Different preparations can also be compared for measurable degrees of crunchiness.

 

Method

A Food Technology Corporation's (FTC) TMS-Pro texture analyzer was used, fitted with a 500 N intelligent loadcell and a TMS lightweight blade set. This fixture features two blades with four different cutting edges. The large v-notched blade was chosen as being most suitable for the product being tested.

The TL-Pro test program was written to slice through each sample pickled gherkin (dill cucumber) at a speed of 250 mm/min to a distance far enough to cut it through completely. Due to the variable nature of the product, several cuts were made in each pickle so as to gain a better overall picture of the product. On completion of the test, the TL Pro graphical data and calculations on the sample were examined.

 

Results

The two traces shown are a representative sample from the control group and the "crunchiest" sample from the sea salt group.

The same results with additional calculations are shown here.

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

 

Significance

It can be seen from the data that the signatures of the normal salt (control) product and the sea salt product are clearly distinguishable. The "crunch factor" is derived from measures of both firmness and work done to achieve the full cut, and a sharper peak in the graph shows a crisper snap. In fact over multiple samples, there is also greater consistency (CV) in the sea salt preparation than in the control sample.

By establishing data profiles in this way for the subjective assessment (bite) of quality-approved sample products, an objective comparator can be used in the texture analyzer for accurate and repeatable mechanized production line testing. New formulations can also be tested that improve consistency or shelf life, based on expert sensory assessment but objectively measurable.

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Excellent customer service. Consistently followed up and offered help without asking. Relatively low priced - provides good value. 

Easy to switch different load cells. Used it for 5 lab sessions for 68 students this semester and performed well.

 

 

Professor Jeyam Subbiah, University of Nebraska
https://nebraska.edu/

The University of Arizona’s Nutritional Sciences Food Lab acquired a Texture Analyzer from Food Technologies about 5 years ago. The company has a great product, which is tailored to food needs. 

We have used the Texture Analyzer for both research projects and as a tool to demonstrate to students how food manufacturers can employ objective testing in product evaluation to show how differing ingredients in the same product can affect quality attributes. Its use adds another dimension to the foods labs.

Drew Lambert has been instrumental in helping with set up for testing and providing support whenever there’s a question. He has been a pleasure to work with and is always accommodating with our needs and schedules.  He has even sent us special attachments for special projects.  We couldn’t ask for a better technical support.  Thanks for a great product and great service.

Patricia Sparks, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Practice
https://www.arizona.edu

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/