Combined microwave - convection drying and textural characteristics of beef jerky
Thiagarajan, Ignaci Victoria
Beef jerky is a dried meat snack which is rich in protein but of low calorific value. This ready-to- eat meat snack is in high demand among hikers, bikers and travelers due to its compact nature and nutritional value. The current processing methods such as smoke house and home dehydrators take 6-10 h. Increasing market for this shelf-stable meat product increases the need for alternate efficient processing method. Also, this meat snack market depends on its textural characteristics which denote the consumer acceptability. In this research, three different methods of drying beef jerky were examined. Influences of pH and salt on different characteristics of beef jerky were investigated using combined microwave-convection drying. Also, the effects of relative humidity and airflow rates in forced air thin layer drying on jerky processing were studied. Samples of beef jerky dried using a combined microwave-convection drier and thin layer drying unit were compared with samples dried in a smoke house. The results obtained showed that pH and salt content had a significant influence on drying, physical and textural characteristics of jerky. It was found that samples with low pH (5.15) and high salt content (3.28% (w/w)) dried faster than samples with high pH and low salt content due to their high drying rates. These samples had shown high shrinkage and weight loss compared to samples with pH 5.65 and 1.28% (w/w) salt content. Analysis of the textural characteristics such as tensile force, puncture force and texture profile showed that the samples with high pH and low salt content were comparably softer than the rest of the samples. Results of the effect of relative humidity and airflow rate in forced air thin layer drying on jerky processing showed that relative humidity and airflow rate influenced the drying, physical, chemical and textural characteristics of beef jerky. Combination of low relative humidity and high airflow rate showed desirable drying characteristics. However, samples dried at this combination showed high shrinkage and weight loss. The hardness of the beef jerky increased with increase in airflow rate and reduction in relative humidity. A comparison of the drying methods revealed that different drying methods produced different desirable properties. Combined microwave-convection drying was found to be efficient and very rapid (8.25 min). The low shrinkage and weight losses along with high drying rate obtained using this method would pave a way to fast and efficient processing. The color and textural characteristics were different from those of samples dried in a smoke house. Surprisingly, combined microwave-convection drying method produced softer beef jerky than thin layer and smokehouse methods. However, the commercially available jerky is tougher than the one dried using combined microwave-convection drying. The samples dried in a thin layer drier had comparable color and textural characteristics with samples dried in a smoke-house. Also, forced-air thin layer drying method reduced drying time of beef jerky from 7 to 3 h. The forced air thin layer drier has the potential to produce beef jerky with similar color and textural characteristics to commercially available smoke house dried samples.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
DepartmentAgricultural and Bioresource Engineering
ProgramAgricultural and Bioresource Engineering
CommitteeOguocha, Ikechukwuka N.; Fonstad, Terrance A.; Baik, Oon-Doo; Shand, Phyllis J.
Thin layer drying