Utilization of pecan shells in smoked chicken products
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This thesis explores the use of pecan shells as a low-cost alternative to pecan or other woods as a source of smoke flavors in chicken breast meat. Several physical properties related to quality were measured including moisture content, water activity, color, cook loss, water-holding capacity and shear force for chicken products smoked with four different varieties of sawdust (pecan shell, hickory, mesquite and apple tree wood). Sensory studies were carried out using descriptive and consumer evaluation. The phenolic compounds responsible for smoky flavor in the smoked chicken breasts were determined by SPME in combination with GC-MS. Of the physical properties, only the moisture content, pH and color were affected by wood species (p<0.05). Pecan shell smoked chicken was slightly darker than other samples (L*=72.86), with a slightly redder color (a*= 5.71, b*=25.70). Based on descriptive sensory studies, only ‘smoky’ and ‘hardness’ attributes differed amongst the samples. Hickory smoked chicken breasts had the strongest smoky flavor (5.28), while the smoky flavor in both pecan shell (4.29) and apple tree wood (4.52) smoked chicken breasts was very similar. Consumer tests showed that pecan shell smoked chicken had scores near “like moderately” (6.20) for overall likeability. The species of woods had an influence on the concentration of phenolic compounds responsible for smoky flavor (p<0.05). The overall level of phenolic compounds related to smoky flavor was greatest in hickory-smoked chicken (0.96 ppm) while pecan shell smoked chicken contained 0.44 ng phenolics/mg. In summary, chicken breast smoked with pecan shells had good acceptability and properties similar to chicken smoked with other woods.