Optimising cooking for better quality
Initial studies have shown that time-temperature integrators (TTIs) can be adapted to mimic nutrient and quality marker destruction during heat processing. These could help optimise cooking regimes to deliver better quality product and avoid unnecessary time and energy consumption.
Preservation of a food’s nutritional and sensory attributes during heat processing is very important for quality and consumer acceptance of the product. TTIs are widely used in thermal process validation where conventional temperature probes cannot be used. A small quantity of enzyme (amylase), encapsulated in a TTI and having similar thermal kinetics as target microorganisms, can be used to measure the degree of heat treatment given to the product. The principle can apply to quality markers.
Preliminary studies on the manipulation of TTI kinetics have shown that D and z values can be modified by altering initial enzyme concentration, calcium concentration and pH. This underpins the development of TTIs as more accurate and consistent quality sensors.
Experiments are planned to further test TTIs and mathematical models as indicators for cooking regime optimisation. Manipulation of the kinetics of TTIs will be continued to achieve a closer match to quality marker kinetics, and these will be further tested in real food systems and on an industrial scale.