Biscuits are a favourite treat among young and old in Australia. A sweet crispy style cake that dates back to the early seventh century AD Persia is now a pantry staple. By the time of the Renaissance, various recipes were developed to enjoy the tasty commodity known as fine cakes, or cookies, or biscuits. Small sweet biscuits similar to shortbread cookies were popular in Elizabethan England. Hardtack biscuits were used when explorers circumnavigated the globe. Today, everything from ladyfingers to gingerbread is available in a variety of flavours and colours.
Biscuits consist of refined flours, different types of sugar that influence the taste and texture of the final product, a binder containing moisture and fats such as eggs and butter, a leavening agent, and flavours such as extracts, spices, chocolate and nuts. When making biscuits, it is important to balance the different ingredients to ensure proper texture, spread, and rise during baking. In addition to physical characteristics, a proper balance of ingredients will also affect the shelf life.
When baking, a proper amount of leavening agent is required to achieve the desired end product. The most common types of leavening agents used in baking are baking soda and baking powder. As biscuits bake, water in the dough boils and turns to steam at approximately 100 degrees Celsius. The steam produced then reacts with the baking soda or powder to create carbon dioxide gas. It is this gas which causes the cookie to rise. The effectiveness of this reaction can influence the flakiness, chew, and crispiness of the biscuit. If the pH of the baking soda/powder mix is off, then this can cause the pH of the mixed dough to be too low or too high. In order to limit bacterial growth, the raw dough must be below pH 8. The leavening mixes can vary in pH from batch to batch within a set lot. Therefore it is important to monitor both the pH of the leavening mix and the mixed dough to ensure a sufficient shelf life and a high quality baked good.
A snack food company contacted Hanna Instruments for portable pH testing, indicating a need for a durable way to test pH on the factory floor. The company would need to test the pH of the baking soda and baking powder slurry that was added to the dough, as well as the raw dough itself at various stages of mixing and baking. Hanna Instruments recommended the HI98161 Professional Foodcare Portable pH Meter with the FC2023 Foodcare Conical Tip pH Electrode.
The HI98161 is a waterproof meter that measures pH and temperature in one. It is a small portable meter that has easy to navigate screens and buttons, including a designated HELP key. The customer appreciated that the battery life was displayed on the screen since they would be carrying around the expansive bakery floor. Through use of the Autohold feature, the meter can take a measurement and, once the reading is stable, hold the value on the screen. The user can then utilise the log on demand feature to record up to 200 readings that can later be exported to a computer. The meter stores the GLP (good lab practices) data along with the logged measurement, including information on the date, time, pH calibration buffers, offset, and the slope. The ability to store and report data in conjunction with electrode calibration, slope, and offset data was required for the customers HACCP plan.
The customer appreciated that the FC2023 electrode was specially designed for food manufacturers in mind. The FC2023 has a conical glass tip that allows for an easy insertion into an assortment of food preparations for direct pH measurement. The open junction design in conjunction with food grade viscolene gel electrolyte that is in direct contact with the sample prevents clogging of the junction. The PVDF body of the probe is food grade plastic that resists chemicals, solvents, and fungal growth. All of these factors make the probe optimal for food use. The customer was very impressed with the fast response time, as well as the stable reading. The HI98161 and the FC2023 provided a complete solution to their portable pH testing needs.
The electrode is also available as FC2022 HALO – the world’s first Bluetooth pH electrode – turning your iPhone or Android device into a into a full-featured pH meter.
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