Texture refers to those qualities of a food that can be felt with the fingers, tongue, palate, or teeth. Foods have different textures, such as crisp crackers or potato chips, crunchy celery, hard candy, tender steaks, chewy chocolate chip cookies and creamy ice cream, to name but a few.
Texture is also an index of quality. The texture of a food can change as it is stored, for various reasons. If fruits or vegetables lose water during storage they wilt or lose their turgor pressure, and a crisp apple becomes unacceptable and leathery on the outside.
Bread can become hard and stale on storage. Products like ice cream can become gritty due to precipitation of lactose and growth of ice crystal in the freezer temperature is allowed to fluctuate, allowing thawing and refreezing.
Evaluation of texture involves measuring the response of a food when it is subjected to forces such as cutting, shearing, chewing, compressing or stretching. Food texture depends on the rheological properties of the food. Rheology is defined as the science of deformation and flow of matter or in other words, reaction of a food when a force is applied to it.
Does it flow, bend, stretch or break? From a sensory perspective, the texture of a food is evaluated when it is chewed. The teeth, tongue and jaw exert a force on the food, and how easily it breaks or flows in the mouth determines whether it is perceived as hard, brittle, thick, runny, and so on. The term mouthfeel is a general term used to describe the textural properties of a food as perceived in the mouth.
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