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Shrinkage and rehydration characteristics of vacuum assisted microwave dried green bell pepper

Kumar, Vivek, Devi, Moirangthem Kalpana, Panda, Brajesh Kumar, Shrivastava, Shanker Lal
Journal of food process engineering 2019 v.42 no.4 pp. e13030
air drying, bulk density, casseroles, color, diffusivity, dried vegetables, packaging, pizza, porosity, recipes, rehydration, sensory properties, shrinkage, soups, stews, sweet peppers, water content
Green bell pepper was dried under vacuum assisted microwave (VAM) drying conditions. The effect of microwave power (100, 200, 300 W) and vacuum pressure (200, 400, 600 mmHg) were observed on shrinkage and rehydration characteristics of the sample. Shrinkage was modeled as a linear function of volume change of material and its moisture content. A model was proposed where apparent density could be evaluated as a function of product's moisture content. The sample volume in case of VAM drying shrunk by 59 to 78%, while in case of hot air drying, the shrinkage occurred up to 90%. At a given power level of 100 W, equilibrium rehydration values (Rₑq) increased from 5.04 to 5.75 for samples dried at increasing vacuum pressure from 200 to 600 mmHg. Rehydration rate constant decreased correspondingly for samples dried at higher microwave power levels. Higher level of microwave power and vacuum pressure played significant (p < 0.01) role in producing more porous (lesser shrunken) product leading to higher diffusion (and thus better rehydrated product) of water through it. Diffusion coefficient in rehydration was calculated using Fick's second law. The values of “k” and “R²” varied from 1 × 10⁻³ to 6.4 × 10⁻³ and 0.986 to 0.999, respectively. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Shrinkage and rehydration characteristics of dried vegetables are of utmost importance when it comes to culinary preparations, premixes, convenient foods and retention of sensory qualities. The model proposed in the present study will be helpful in evaluating shrinkage as a function of apparent density and moisture content of dried green bell pepper. Several changes such as shape, size, structure, color, bulk density, porosity, and rehydration capacity are induced due to structural alteration in green bell pepper followed by drying. This information could help in safe commercial packaging of dried products. Further, dried green bell pepper must be rehydrated to be used in preparation of foods such as soups, pizzas, stews, casseroles, and many other recipes. Outcome of the current study can also be referred and implemented while accessing the rehydration characteristics of dried and shrunken vegetables.