Nutritional quality of heat-sensitive food materials in intermittent microwave convective drying
Background: The retention of health promoting components in nutrient-rich dried food is significantly affected by the dehydration method. Theoretical and experimental investigations reported in the literature have demonstrated that intermittent microwave convective drying (IMCD) can effectively improve the drying performance. However, the impact of this advanced drying method on the quality food has not been adequately investigated.
Design: A programmable NN-SD691S Panasonic inverter microwave oven (1100 W, 2450 MHz) was employed for the experiments. The microwave power level was set at 100 W and ran for 20 seconds at different power ratios and the constant hot air conditions was set to a temperature of 60°C and 0.86 m/s air velocity.
Objective: In this study, natural bioactive compounds (ascorbic acid and total polyphenol), water activity, colour and microstructure modifications which can occur in IMCD were investigated, taking kiwifruit as a sample.
Results and Discussion: The microwave (MW) power ratio (PR) had significant impact on different quality attributes of dried samples. The results demonstrate that applying optimum level MW power and intermittency could be an appropriate strategy to significantly improve the preservation of nutrient contents, microstructure and colour of the dried sample. The IMCD at PR 1:4 was found to be the ideal drying condition with the highest ascorbic acid retention (3.944 mg/g DM), lowest colour change (ΔERGB = 43.86) and a porous microstructure. However, the total polyphenol content was better maintained (3.701 mg GAE/g DM) at higher microwave density (PR 1:3). All samples attained a desirable level of water activity which is unsusceptible for microorganism growth and reproduction.
Conclusion: Overall, IMCD significantly improved the drying performance and product quality compared to traditional convective drying.
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