Abstract: Ultrasonic velocity and attenuation measurements (2.25 MHz center frequency) were used to follow bulk crystallization of lactose (43% and 46%) from gelatin (1.5% and 3%) gels at 25 °C, and compared to turbidity (500 nm) and isothermal calorimetric measurements. Ultrasonic velocity decreased slightly (approximately 0.5%) during crystallization while ultrasonic attenuation was low in the absence of lactose crystals and increased progressively during crystallization. The lag time before the onset of crystallization decreased and the maximum rate of increase in attenuation during crystallization increased with increasing lactose supersaturation but was not affected by gelatin concentration (P < 0.05). Similar results were seen in turbidity and isothermal calorimetric measurements. Ultrasonic attenuation measurements have the potential to measure crystallization kinetics in complex food matrices and to be applied on-line.
Practical Application: Many foods contain crystals that affect their taste and texture (for example, lactose crystals can give a grainy defect in ice cream). The formation of crystals is often hard to predict so methods to measure the development of crystals inside real foods are useful. In this study, we show that as lactose crystallizes in a gelatin gel the ultrasonic attenuation—capacity to absorb sound—increases and can be related to the amount of crystals present. Ultrasound is easier to apply in real food processing than the existing methodologies.