• energy dissipation;
  • heating profiles;
  • household microwave oven;
  • pork meat;
  • thermodynamical properties

ABSTRACT:  In this study, the parameters heating rate, dielectric factors, and specific heat capacity, which determine the heating profiles and the dissipation of energy during microwave heating, were obtained for precooked pork patties. The pork patties studied were lean meat, pure back fat, and several lean meat/back fat mixtures. Microwave heating at 798 W power was not sufficient to accelerate the heating rates in 100% lean meat compared to 415 W. However, samples were able to heat up faster and dissipate more energy at 798 W power as fat content increased and moisture content decreased. The recorded differences in the specific heat capacity of the studied materials as a function of temperature seemed not to be the key factor to explain the observed temperature rises. Temperature rise seemed to have more to do with the interactions of fat with the electromagnetic field, and with viscosity changes during phase transitions. Trends found for the dielectric properties over microwave heating of meat products agree with data from other authors, but the influence of parameters related to the sample composition and structure should be taken into account. The dissipation factors (ɛ″/ɛ′) provided a good approximation to the capacity of the samples containing lean meat and the lean meat/fat mixtures to transform the electromagnetic energy into heat. Neither the dielectric constant nor the loss or dissipation factors were able to clarify the high amount of energy transformed into heat in 100% back fat. Penetration depth and reflected power indicated that back fat allowed microwave energy to be repeatedly redirected to the material.