Abstract: Consumers look for products that contribute to their wellness and health, however, even health-conscious consumers are not willing to sacrifice organoleptic properties, and intense full-flavor snacks remain an important trend. The objective of this study was to examine most important quality parameters of vacuum (1.92 inHg) and atmospheric-fried carrot, potato, and apple slices to determine specific advantages of vacuum technology. Slices were fried using equivalent thermal driving forces, maintaining a constant difference between oil temperature and the boiling point of water at the working pressure (ΔT = 60 and 80 °C). This resulted in frying temperatures of 160 and 180 °C, and 98 and 118 °C, for atmospheric and vacuum frying, respectively. Vacuum-fried carrot and potato chips absorbed about 50% less oil than atmospheric-fried chips, whereas vacuum-fried apple chips reduced oil absorption by 25%. Total carotenoids and ascorbic acid (AA) were greatly preserved during vacuum frying. Carrot chips vacuum fried at 98 °C retained about 90% of total carotenoids, whereas potato and apple slices vacuum fried at 98 °C, preserved around 95% of their initial AA content. Interestingly, results showed that the antioxidant capacity of chips may be related to both the presence of natural antioxidants and brown pigments developed at elevated temperatures.
Practical Application: A way to reduce detrimental effects of deep-fat frying is through operating-pressure reduction, the essence behind vacuum deep-fat frying. In this way, it is possible to remove product moisture at a low temperature in a low-oxygen environment. The objective of this research was to study the effect of oil temperature reduction when vacuum frying traditional (potatoes) and nontraditional products (carrots and apples) on most important quality attributes (vitamins, color, and oil uptake). Results are promising and show that vacuum frying can be an alternative to produce nutritious and novel snacks with desired quality attributes, since vitamins and color were greatly preserved and oil absorption could be substantially reduced.