The mouthfeel of a product is a multidimensional oral sensation. The main aspects of the mouthfeel are the structure breakdown on mastication, the release of flavor as a function of emulsion break-up, the cooling effect due to melting and, preferentially, the absence of waxy aftertaste due to high melting material. The fat crystals present directly influence these properties to a great extent. On mastication and heating the fat crystals start to melt and to dissolve. Intense mixing with saliva helps the heat transfer and also the dissolution. Additionally, kneading further improves heat transfer and softens the product, as fat crystal networks are sensitive to shear. The effects that the fat crystals have on the oral sensation are consequently mainly linked to SFC and crystal size. The cooling effect of a disintegrating product depends on how much solid material is actually melting in the mouth. This correlates to the steepness of the SFC curve in the temperature range from 20 to 34 °C. This sensation is modulated by the speed of product disintegration, which depends on the heat transfer and shear, and also on the crystal size. Smaller crystals melt or dissolve much more quickly than bigger ones. The liberation of flavors from an emulsified water phase happens upon product inversion (Bot and Pelan, 2000; de Bruijn and Bot, 1999, de Bruijn et al, 1993); this means during the emulsion breakdown induced by insufficient stabilization of the droplets by fat crystals (see Section 15.1.4). Finally if the amount of fatty material that remains solid in the mouth is too high, a few per cent, there is a risk that instead of the desirable lubrication, combined with beneficial flavor perception enhancement, a waxy sensation persists. TAGs melting above 50 °C are typically associated with this phenomenon.
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