Comparative study of three drying methods: freeze, hot air- assisted freeze and infrared-assisted freeze modes
College of Nyíregyháza, Institute of Engineering and Agricultural Sciences, Department of Vehicle and Agricultural Engineering, Kótaji Str. 9–11., H-4400 Nyiregyhaza, Hungary; e-mail: email@example.com
The dehydration tests were conducted at three drying methods to evaluate the drying curves and the energy uptake. Apple (Malus domestica L.) cubes were dried under different processing conditions applying freeze drying (FD), freeze drying assisted by hot air and freeze drying assisted by infrared radiation. Control samples were produced using regular freeze drying without the pre-drying. Hot air combined with freeze drying (HAD-FD) at 60 and 80°C air temperatures was investigated. The infrared-freeze drying (IR-FD) is a relatively new processing method. The Idared apple cubes were dried with 5 kW m-2 IR power intensity. It was observed that the infrared power level and hot air temperature affected the drying rate and time of freeze drying. The infrared radiation heating had a higher drying rate than hot air during the pre-dehydration. The water activity, colour, firmness and rehydration ratio (RR) of finished products were measured. The dried material produced with IR-FD had desirable colour, higher rehydration rate and lower firmness than dried by HAD-FD ones. The quality of single-stage FD samples was close to IR-FD materials. It was observed that the IR-FD method drastically decreased the energy consumption, compared to FD and HAD-FD drying treatments. The mathematical models such as Henderson-Pabis and third-degree polynomial are used to describe the drying kinetics of food material. It was found that those mathematical models performed adequately in predicting the changes of moisture ratio.