Mayonnaise is an oil-in-water emulsion stabilized by egg yolk and has been produced commercially for more than one hundred years [1
]. Traditional mayonnaise is produced in a batch process by slowly adding the oil to the water phase under vigorous mixing, thereby creating an emulsion [2
]. Industrially, mixing is achieved using high-intensity rotor-stator mixers, also referred to as high-shear mixers [3
]. Although the taste and texture of mayonnaise is appreciated by many consumers, local markets often value different sensory properties. Therefore, as it is known that production techniques such as mixing/homogenization may have a considerable effect on the final product structure [1
], better knowledge of how processing conditions affect the sensory and instrumental properties of the emulsion could help cater for such varying consumer preferences.
Due to a high oil content, mayonnaise exhibits a semisolid and viscoelastic behavior that influences its particular rheological properties, which in turn contribute to the perceived texture and flavor of the product [5
]. In this context, texture is defined as the sensory perception of the structure of a food [6
]. According to van Aken et al. [7
], the rheological properties of a food product are very important for the perception of a creamy mouthfeel, although other authors have stressed that a variety of aspects may also play a role. For example, the oil droplet size is another parameter of interest due to its ability to influence product appearance, texture, and flavor profile [8
One way in which the texture of mayonnaise is perceived by the consumer is through its processing and breakdown in the mouth (intra orally) before it is swallowed. In fact, most sensations associated with food texture occur only when the food is manipulated, deformed, or moved across the receptors in the mouth [4
]. Through texture analysis, it is possible to choose a compression technique similar to that performed by the mouth, and then measure the behavior of the food using this technique. Such tests are valuable since they can confirm various textural properties, including the creaminess of mayonnaise.
Texture is also perceived outside the mouth (extra orally). Before the food item enters the mouth, visual cues related to the item’s appearance provide information regarding its texture, while additional information can also be obtained by handling the food, e.g., by stirring, spooning, and cutting [4
The emulsification taking place when mayonnaise is formed in rotor-stator mixers is relatively well understood, and proceeds via hydrodynamic interactions between the dispersed phase and the fluid in the rotor-stator region. Experiments suggest that the dispersed phase is predominantly broken up by turbulent viscous stresses [9
]. The diameter of the emulsion drops, U
, is produced in the rotor-stator mixer scales with the rotor tip-speed, determined by
and decreases according to the power-law function [9
]. In Equation (1), N
is the rotor speed and D
is the rotor diameter. Drop size also decreases with processing time, and scales with the average number of passages, p
, through the rotor-stator region [9
], which is written as
is processing time, V
is the fluid volume, and Q
is the flow through the stator screen of the mixer [11
], expressed as follows:
is a mixer-specific design constant. However, the dynamics of the process is very slow and the droplet size continues to decrease after the emulsion has been processed for more than the equivalent of an average of 100 passages through the rotor-stator region [9
The effect of processing conditions on the sensory response of mayonnaise is not as well understood as the effect on emulsion drop diameters. Furthermore, studies in which the rheological properties of mayonnaise have been related to perceived texture have predominantly focused on low-fat mayonnaises with oil concentrations ranging from 15–30% [13
], thus creating a knowledge gap with regard to how full-fat (~75–80%) mayonnaises are affected.
It has been shown that fat content has a significant effect on perceived thickness and fattiness, with a higher fat content yielding a higher perception of both qualities. However, increased emulsification intensity, which produces smaller droplets, has the opposite effect and has also been shown to affect the perceived sweetness and whiteness of mayonnaise with added aromas [14
]. Taste, flavor and textural attributes are also of interest in mayonnaise without added aromas.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of emulsification intensity on the sensory and instrumental characteristics of full-fat mayonnaise.
A higher emulsification intensity affects the microstructure of mayonnaise by decreasing the droplet size [9
], thus potentially affecting sensory traits such as texture [13
], color [14
], and flavor [8
]. However, our results revealed no significant difference between the experimental samples with regard to color, taste, or flavor. As smaller particles increase light scattering, a reduced droplet size leads to a whiter mayonnaise, a phenomenon that has been illustrated in cream cheese, in which homogenization was found to lower the intensity of the yellow color [16
]. In theory, flavor release decreases with increasing droplet size, as it takes longer for flavor molecules to diffuse out of a larger droplet. However, polar and non-polar flavor molecules behave differently in this respect, and the influence of droplet size on the rate of flavor release depends on the nature of the system [8
]. In the study conducted by Wendin, Langton, Caous and Hall [16
], smaller droplet sizes in cream cheese resulted in a shorter duration of the dynamic sensation of “fat-creamy”.
The samples showed significant textural differences linked to the intensity of emulsification, with a more intense emulsification producing higher firmness and creaminess, as well as a decrease in adhesiveness to the spoon when handled. The textural attributes of mayonnaise can be explained by the elastic parameters of dynamic viscoelasticity (G’). This property is strongly related to particle size at 10% cumulative volume, which is in turn negatively correlated with sensory attributes including hardness, fracturability, and adhesiveness [13
]. The perception of texture is a complex process involving the senses of vision, hearing, somesthesis, and kinesthesis [17
]. Neurologically, texture perception results from the interaction of sensory and motor components of the peripheral nervous system with the central nervous system. Initially, the sight and extra-oral manipulation of food, e.g., through using a spoon, sets up sensory expectations regarding texture [18
]. Then, once the food is put into the mouth, texture perception is a dynamic process, as the physical properties of foods change continuously when manipulated intra-orally. In this respect it would be interesting to further examine the question of how well texture attributes that are perceived extra-orally correlate with perceived oral-somatosensory attributes.
In the present study, the emulsion drop size distribution was not measured. However, previous investigations have shown that the scaling of drop-diameter averages with rotor tip-speed is highly predictable [9
]. Using this previously established scaling, the higher emulsification intensity (rotor tip-speed 7.1 m/s compared to 4.7 m/s) corresponds to an expected reduction in the average oil drop diameter by a factor of two [9
]. This is a rather substantial reduction that was expected to lead to quality differences with regard to the appearance, texture and flavor of the product. However, only extra-oral textural attributes were affected to a degree that could be perceived by the sensory panel.
Our findings, that a more intense emulsification and hence a decreased oil drop diameter produces a firmer mayonnaise, compare well with earlier results regarding the effect of microstructure on food emulsions [13
]. The instrumental texture analysis data support the theory that a decreased droplet size leads to textural alterations, resulting in a more firm and adhesive mayonnaise. These findings may be helpful for the control and prediction of mayonnaise texture using processing conditions rather than more common approaches such as adding texture modifiers, which in the age of growing consumer preference for “clean labels” are unwanted in many products. Understanding the microstructural changes that occur during processing and the role of different mayonnaise ingredients will allow for better control of product structure and, ultimately, the manipulation and regulation of product texture [17
The study conducted by Maruyama, Sakashita, Hagura and Suzuki [13
] is just one among many to report that temperature during preparation may affect the physical properties of mayonnaise. Thus, if the aim is to obtain reproducible results, a consistent temperature is essential. In the present study, the ingredients were left to adjust to room temperature at approximately 20 °C, with the mayonnaise thereafter prepared at the same temperature. Compared to industrial preconditions, in which emulsification is commonly performed under cooling, the temperature in this study was high and control was inadequate, which might have influenced the results. Since emulsion formation is controlled by viscous drop breakup [9
], a high temperature at the onset of emulsification will decrease the viscosity of the emulsion, reducing the viscous shear forces and thus resulting in larger drop sizes.