Manipulation of processing variables for improved functionality of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) meal for use in making akara (fried cowpea paste)
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Importance of particle size distribution (PSD) in conjunction with milling method (wet or dry) on the functionality of cowpea paste and the quality and acceptance of akara was investigated for dry milled hammer milled meal (HM) and wet-milled freeze-dried meal (FD). Optimal PSD for both HM and FD meals proved to be 65% medium particles (0.180 – 0.425 mm) and 35% large particles (0.425 – 1.000 mm) with paste made from these meals having good handling characteristics. Akara produced from the two meals had hardness values not significantly different from traditionally prepared (WTM) akara (WTM: 5.341 N, HM: 5.317 N, and FD: 4.048 N). Image analysis of scanning electron micrographs of akara crumb structure showed no significant difference in the amount of air incorporated into the three samples. Sensory panelists reported no significant difference in sensory attributes and overall liking among the three akara samples.