This study investigated the influence of mechanical and physicochemical properties of semi-solid model foods on the detection and temporal perception of texture contrast. Gel-based model foods consisting of two layers were used to systematically vary mechanical contrast and physicochemical properties within bi-layer gels. Fracture stress (σF) and strain (εF) were modified by changing the concentration of various gelling agents (agar, к-carrageenan, and gelatine). The physicochemical properties of gels varied with respect to syneresis and melting behaviour depending on the type of gelling agent. The detection limit of perceived texture contrast of bi-layer gels was determined using ranking tests. Subjects ranked gels in order of increasing perceived heterogeneity as a measure of texture contrast. The detection limit of texture contrast varied between brittle and elastic gels and between soft (low σF) and hard (high σF) gels. In soft and brittle agar gels, heterogeneity was perceived already when the difference in fracture stress between layers was small (ΔσF ≥5 kPa). In soft and elastic gels (к-carrageenan, gelatine) and hard gels, heterogeneity was perceived only when the difference in fracture stress between the layers was large (ΔσF ≥12 kPa). The perceived heterogeneity intensity over time was investigated by time-intensity profiling. During mastication, gelatine gels were perceived for a longer period of time with a higher heterogeneity intensity than agar and к-carrageenan gels. We conclude that mainly mechanical properties of gels impact detectability of mechanical contrast as perceived texture contrast (heterogeneity), whereas a combination of mechanical and physicochemical properties influence the dynamic perception of heterogeneity over time.
- Texture perception