This study sought to define what attributes of sweetpotatoes are most critical to textural qualities of their fried chips for effective selection of specialty cultivars. It compared texture-predicting fracturability of fried chips prepared from either structurally intact or disrupted slices of 13 cultivars; analyzed major attributes of these sweetpotatoes, including starch contents and properties, dry matter contents, and structure-related penetration resistances (measured using an adapted penetration test); and evaluated correlational relationships between these attributes of sweetpotatoes and fracturability of fried chips. The study found that lower dry matter (<22.6% F.W.) and starch contents (<10% F.W.), and lower gelatinization temperatures of starch in sweetpotatoes generally resulted in a more favorable fracturability (lower peak break force) of fried chips. However, contrary to potato, total dry matter content is not the sole determinant of textural qualities of fried sweetpotato chips; instead, structure-related attributes of sweetpotatoes appear to have a greater impact. Partial structural disruptions of sweetpotato slices by blanching effectively improved fracturability of fried chips in all analyzed cultivars, and by ~40% in eight of the 13 cultivars. Furthermore, the degree of structural penetrability of sweetpotatoes, as indexed by penetration resistances, showed very significant correlations with fracturability of fried chips.
Key words: Sweetpotato chips, fracturability, puncture test, structure-related attributes, dry matter content, starch.
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