Food gels filled with emulsion droplets : linking large deformation properties to sensory perception

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Key words: polymer gels, particle gels, emulsion, large deformation, friction, sensory   This thesis reports studies on the large deformation and lubrication properties of emulsion-filled gels and the way these properties are related to the sensory perception of the gels. The design of the studies included polymer and particle gels containing oil droplets of which the interaction with the gel matrix was varied, resulting in droplets either bound or unbound to the matrix. The unique combination of gel matrices and droplet-matrix interactions allowed to obtain a representative overview of the effect of the oil droplets on the properties studied. The molecular properties of the gel matrices determined the way the large deformation properties of the gels depended on the deformation speed. Polymer gels showed a predominantly elastic behaviour. Particle gels showed a more viscoelastic behavior. The effect of the oil content on the Young’s modulus of the gels was modulated by the droplet-matrix interactions, in agreement with existing theories. Bound droplets increased the Young’s modulus of the filled gels, whereas unbound droplets decreased it. Oil droplets embedded in the gel matrix acted as stress concentration nuclei. They also increased energy dissipation due to friction between structural elements of the gel (oil droplets and gel matrix). Stress concentration resulted in a decrease of the fracture strain for all gels and in a decrease of the fracture stress for polymer gels. For gels with non-aggregated bound droplets, a reduction in oil droplet size had the same effect on their rheological properties as an increase in oil volume fraction. The lubrication properties of the gels strongly depended on both the molecular and functional properties of the gel matrix and the oil content. For each type of gel matrix, the lubrication behaviour was affected by the ‘apparent viscosity’ of the broken gels, which in turn depended on the droplet-matrix interactions. The sensory perception of emulsion-filled gels appeared to be dominated by the properties of the gel matrix and by the oil content. Polymer gels were perceived as more melting, whereas particle gels were perceived as more rough. With increasing oil content both types of gels became more creamy and spreadable. The increase in spreadability and part of the increase in creaminess could be explained with the effect of the oil droplets on the breakdown properties of the gels. Since for all gels the scores for creaminess increased with increasing oil content, the release of oil droplets during oral processing could not completely explain the perception of oil-related sensory attributes. It is therefore concluded that the perception of these attributes is mediated by the lubrication properties of the broken gel. The large deformation and lubrication behaviour of the gels were the most important parameters related to sensory perception. Both parameters were affected by the droplet-matrix interaction. As a matter of fact, the droplet-matrix interaction affected the fracture behaviour of the filled gels, which was related to their spreadability, and the ‘apparent viscosity’ of the broken gels, which controlled the lubrication properties of these systems.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Cohen Stuart, Martien, Promotor
  • van Aken, G.A., Co-promotor, External person
  • van de Velde, F., Co-promotor, External person
Award date11 Dec 2007
Place of Publication[S.l.]
Print ISBNs9789085048329
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • gelation
  • emulsions
  • droplets
  • mechanical properties
  • sensory evaluation

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