The study published in the American Chemistry Society’s Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that manipulating the texture of bread can impact how consumers perceive saltiness due to the interaction between taste and mouthfeel and the speed of sodium release.
By making the pores in the bread larger and therefore reducing the overall density, consumers perceive a saltier taste in the product, the researchers from the German Research Center for Food Chemistry and the Technical University of Munich found.
“Appropriate modification of crumb texture thus leads to enhanced saltiness, suggesting a new strategy for salt reduction in bread.”
This can be achieved by extended proofing times, they said.
Longer proofing times lead to softer breads with larger pores, and the subjects in the study rated these fluffier breads with the longest proofing time as saltier, despite a lower salt content.
Getting the perfect texture is crucial
Findings showed that sodium release from bread crumb is influenced by texture and, more specifically, a combination of crumb firmness and pore size.
“A larger pore size leads to a softer crumb and a faster sodium release, but when the pores are too large and the crumb is too soft, the crumb is converted to a lump by chewing, leading to a diminished rate of sodium release.
“The crumb firmness must neither be too firm nor too soft to obtain a maximum velocity of sodium release during chewing,” the researchers wrote.
However, salt intensity is more than just sodium release during chewing, they added, it’s also about taste and mouthfeel interactions in the mouth or brain.
“On the one hand, texture has an influence on sodium release from bread crumb during chewing. On the other hand, texture induces tactile-gustatory interactions in the mouth or brain. An enhanced salt intensity of bread crumb could be obtained by an optimized crumb structure with large pores, provided that the resulting crumb firmness is not too low,” they said.
Sensory analysis on the breads was conducted by a 15-strong trained panel as well as analysis on sodium release during chewing. The testing was performed on wheat bread crumb and dough – to investigate different textures containing the same ingredients in the mouth with a nose clip as well as in a mastication simulator.
The researchers said that while both techniques were quite similar, both methods had advantages. Testing in the mouth was more realistic and the mastication simulator allowed the determination of sodium release in a more reproducible manner without influences of tongue movements or individual mouths, they said.
Source: Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry
Published 2013, volume 61 (45), pages 10649-10658. Doi: 10.1021/jf403304y
“Influence of Texture on the Perception of Saltiness in Wheat Bread”
Authors: T. Pflaum, K. Konitzer, T. Hofmann and P. Koehler