Date of Award
MS in Agriculture - Dairy Products Technology
The overall goal was to understand the capabilities of a dairy based meat alternative. This was done in three phases: 1) the production of a dairy protein gel as a base for a dairy based meat alternative, 2) texturization of the dairy protein gel base to produce a nugget like texture, and 3) a consumer test to determine the acceptability of the dairy based nugget compared to meat and meat alternatives on the market.
For phase I, a dairy protein gel base was tested to understand the textural attributes. Milk to whey percentages and level of acidification were examined to determine their effects on instrumental textural attributes of the protein gel. The milk to whey percentages and level of acidification that were tested were 5/95, 10/90, and 15/85, and pH 5.70-5.60, 5.15-5.05, and 4.6-4.5; respectively. The texture was objectively measured using a texture analyzer. The results showed that there was an increase in the hardness, gumminess and chewiness which was associated with an increase of the milk to whey ratio. Also a firmer dairy protein gel was produced using a low pH. A milk to whey percentage of 15/85 and a pH of 4.6-4.5 produced the highest overall instrumental textural attributes, specifically .
For phase II, the dairy protein gel composed of a milk to whey ratio of 15/85 and pH of 4.6 was evaluated in the formulation of a dairy based nugget. The grinding of the dairy protein gel was used to determine if different size grinding plates and the presence of a gum can influence the textural attributes of the dairy protein gel. The dairy protein gel base was evaluated by a trained sensory panel to compare to the results of the objective texture analyzer. The dairy protein gel was processed using a meat grinder with a grind size of 3 mm, 6 mm and a blend of 4 parts 6 mm grinded and 1 part 3 mm. The increase in the grind size produced an increased instrumental hardness, springiness, cohesiveness, chewiness and gumminess. The usage of gum in the dairy protein gel system produced a higher instrumental adhesiveness. The sensory results showed that an increase in the grind size increased the sensory attributes; hardness, cohesiveness, chewiness and adhesiveness. The use of gum in the system had no influence on the sensory textural attributes. Both the texture analyzer and trained sensory testing showed a similar trend for the texture attributes. No correlation between the texture analyzer and sensory was found. This was a surprise because literature indicates there are significant correlations between instrumental textural attributes and sensory texture attributes. The lack of correlation may be explained by the variability of the panelists (P-value<0.05) for each sample.
For phase III, an acceptability test was performed on untrained consumers of chicken nuggets to determine if the dairy based meat alternative was acceptable compared to meat nuggets and meat alternatives on the market. Texture, flavor, and appearance were evaluated by a consumer panel. The consumers evaluated the dairy based meat alternative and concluded that the appearance, texture and flavor needed improvement.
From this research, it was concluded that a dairy based meat alternative can be created to imitate meat and meat alternative textures. By understanding the processing conditions to produce the dairy protein gel base and grinding of the product, an acceptable meat alternative can be produced. Dairy based meat alternative texture attributes were produced from a milk to whey percentage of 15/85 and a pH of 4.6, and a large grind plate of 6 mm with the use of methylcellulose.