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Blackwell Science, LtdOxford, UKJFPPJournal of Food Processing and Preservation0145-8892Copyright 2005 by Food & Nutrition Press, Inc.

, Trumbull, Connecticut.292132150Original Article IR AND

HOT-AIR DRYING OF ONIONS


D.G. PRAVEEN KUMAR

ET AL.

INFRARED AND HOT-AIR DRYING OF ONIONS


D.G. PRAVEEN KUMAR1, H. UMESH HEBBAR1,3, D. SUKUMAR2 and
M.N. RAMESH1
1

Department of Food Engineering

Department of Lipid Science and Traditional Foods


Central Food Technological Research Institute
Mysore, 570 020
India
Accepted for Publication May 02, 2005

ABSTRACT
The combination of infrared (IR) and hot-air drying of onion slices was
explored, and the effects of processing conditions such as drying temperature,
slice thickness, air temperature and velocity on onion slice characteristics
were studied. The onion slice quality was evaluated on the basis of the color
and the pyruvic acid content, an index of flavor. Drying of thin slices of onion
(2 mm) at low temperature (60C) with a moderate air velocity (2 m/s) and air
temperature (40C) retained greater flavor and color. An empiric equation
developed to correlate the drying process variables and the onion slice moisture with the drying time provided a good fit (R2 = 0.92). Similar equations
developed to correlate the drying process variables and the drying time with
the pyruvic acid content provided an excellent fit (R2 = 0.96), while the equations fit for the total color change of onion slices were satisfactory (R2 = 0.86).
Combination drying resulted in shorter drying process time and in better
onion slice quality as compared to IR and hot-air drying applied individually.

INTRODUCTION
Onions (Allium cepa Linnaeus) are widely grown and are one of the most
popular vegetables in the world. The demand for dried onions is increasing in
recent decades. The European Union, one of the major consumers of dried
onions, meets its demand by importing onions from the United States, Egypt,
India and Hungary (Lewicki et al. 1995). To meet quality demands, many new
cultivars of onions suitable for dehydration are being grown. The best onions
3

Corresponding author. TEL:


hebbar@cscftri.ren.nic.in

132

+091-0821-2513910;

FAX:

+091-0821-2517233;

EMAIL:

Journal of Food Processing and Preservation 29 (2005) 132150. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright 2005, Blackwell Publishing

IR AND HOT-AIR DRYING OF ONIONS

133

for drying exhibit high pungency, high total solids and minimal discoloration
during processing (Jones and Mann 1963). India produced nearly 4.9 million
tonnes of onions throughout 2001 and 2002 and exported around 7000 tonnes
of dehydrated onion products (APEDA Export Statement 2002). Dried onion
products are produced in several forms: flaked, minced, chopped and powdered. Dried onions are used as flavor additives in wide varieties of food
formulations such as comminuted meats, sauces, soups, salad dressings, pickles and pickle relishes.
The technique of drying is probably the oldest method of food preservation practiced by mankind for the extension of food shelf life. The use of
artificial drying to preserve agricultural commodities is expanding, creating a
need for more rapid drying techniques and methods that reduce the large
amount of energy required in drying processes. New and innovative techniques that increase drying rates and enhance dried onion quality are receiving
considerable attention (Mongpraneet et al. 2002). The major quality problems
faced during onion drying are loss of flavor, discoloration and poor rehydration characteristics of the dried onions.
Onion flavor and color are generally perceived as important quality
attributes. Quality changes during the drying process are influenced by drying
temperatures. The volatile compounds responsible for the aroma and flavor of
onions exhibit low boiling points and, accordingly, are often lost during hightemperature drying. Maillard browning reactions induced by the drying process decrease nutritional value, changes the color and flavor and induces
textural changes (Adam et al. 2000). Several quality standards for dried onions
were developed over time; the official standards of the American Dehydrated
Onion and Garlic Association (ADOGA) are considered the primary standard.
Hot-air drying is the most commonly employed commercial technique
for drying vegetables and fruits, but the hot-air drying process remains largely
an art (Mazza and LeMaguer 1980). In industrialized countries, onions are
dried using high-temperature commercial dryers such as conveyor belt driers
or fluidized bed driers. Prepared onions are uniformly sliced to the required
thickness, and the onion slices are dried in a thin layer at a temperature near
60C to a final moisture content less than 9%. However, the major disadvantage
associated with hot-air drying is the long drying time even at temperatures
near 60C, resulting in the degradation of sliced onion quality. Extensive
research was carried out on onion drying by conventional hot-air methods
(Sarsavadia et al. 1999). The thin-layer drying rates of brined onion slices
were experimentally determined at selected drying temperatures, air velocities
and relative humidities. Elustondo et al. (1996) developed a simple model for
the dehydration of onion pieces. The kinetics of the nonenzymatic Maillard
browning of onion slices during isothermal heating was reported by Rapusas
and Driscoll (1995), and the temperature-dependent browning of onion slices

134

D.G. PRAVEEN KUMAR ET AL.

was successfully modeled as a zero-order reaction. Singh and Kumar (1984)


also studied the loss of pungency and the discoloration in selected cultivars
of onions during hot-air drying.
Infrared (IR) irradiation heating offers many advantages over conventional hot-air drying. When IR irradiation is used to heat or to dry moist
vegetables or fruits, the radiation impinges on the exposed vegetable or fruit
surfaces and penetrates, and the energy of radiation is converted into heat
(Ginzburg 1969). The depth of penetration depends on the composition and
structure of the vegetables and fruits and on the wavelengths of the IR irradiation. When a food is exposed to the irradiation, the food is heated intensely,
and the temperature gradient throughout the food is reduced within a short
period. Further, by the application of intermittent IR irradiation, wherein the
periods of heating are followed by cooling, the intense displacement of moisture from the core toward the surface can be achieved.
The displacement of moisture results in increased rates of heat transfer
compared to conventional drying, and the vegetables and fruits are more
uniformly heated resulting in improved quality characteristics (Hebbar and
Ramesh 2001). IR processing was attempted in baking, roasting, thermal
preservation (blanching, pasteurization and sterilization) and drying of foods
(Sandu 1986). Combinations of electromagnetic irradiation and hot air for
drying are more efficient than irradiation or hot-air heating alone, presumably
providing a synergistic effect. The energy conserved and the quality improvements of barley, which were observed after combined far-IR irradiation and
hot-air convection drying, were reported by Afzal et al. (1999). Combinationmode drying reduced the total energy requirements by nearly 245% when
compared with hot-air drying at 70C. Drying of garlic, which is another herb
that exhibits quality characteristics similar to onions, was studied using combined microwave and hot-air heat sources by Sharma and Prasad (2001). The
effects of drying with far-IR radiation under vacuum conditions on the quality
of Welsh onions were explored by Mongpraneet et al. (2002).
The present study discusses the influence of selected drying conditions
such as drying temperature, slice thickness, air temperature and air velocity
during combined IR and hot-air drying on the drying characteristics and on
the quality of sliced onions.

MATERIALS AND METHODS


The Bellary cultivar of onions available in a local market was selected
for experimentation. The raw onions had an initial moisture content of 86
88% (Wb). Onion preparation included manual trimming and peeling followed by slicing of the onions with a domestic slicer.

IR AND HOT-AIR DRYING OF ONIONS

135

BLOWER

HEATER

TEMPERATURE SENSOR

900 mm

TEMPERATURE SENSOR

CONVEYOR
DRYING CHAMBERS
IR HEATERS

5500 mm

FIG. 1. COMBINED INFRARED AND HOT-AIR DRYING SYSTEM

A combined IR and hot-air heating system, developed in Central Food


Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) in Mysore, India (Hebbar and
Ramesh 2001), was used to carry out the experiments. A schematic diagram
of the heating system is presented in Fig. 1. The equipment designed for
continuous operation is fitted with mid-IR (2.43.0 mm) heat sources on either
side of a wire mesh conveyor. Through flow, hot air is provided for convective
heating.
Experimental Design
The experiments were carried out in batch mode, and 2.0 kg of sliced
onions (25-mm diameter) were used for each experiment. The slices were
spread uniformly in a single layer (monolayer) over the wire mesh conveyor.

136

D.G. PRAVEEN KUMAR ET AL.

The combined mode experiments were carried out at three drying temperatures (60, 70 or 80C), slice thicknesses (2, 4 or 6 mm), air temperatures (30,
40 or 50C) and air velocities (0.8, 1.4 and 2.0 m/s) (Table 1). The drying and
the hot-air temperatures were controlled with thermostats. Air velocity was
controlled by regulating air flow at the blower inlet. During each experiment,
one of the parameters was varied, keeping other conditions the same. The
onion slices were dried to a moisture content of 78% (Wb). The convective
and the IR drying of the onion slices (2-mm thick) were also carried out at
60C independently. Onion slices were removed at regular intervals for
moisture analysis. The withdrawn onion slices were analyzed in duplicate,
and mean values were reported.
The moisture contents of the raw and the dried onion slices were determined with an oven method (Ranganna 1977) and expressed as percentage on
a wet weight basis. The pyruvic acid content, an index of the flavor strength
of onions, was estimated with a spectrophotometric method (Schwimmer and
Wetson 1961) and reported as mmol/g.
The color of the dehydrated onion slices was determined using a Hunter
color measurement system (Laboratory Scan XE, C Illuminant, 2view angle,
Hunter Laboratory, Reston, VA, USA). The L, a and b color difference values,
representing the differences in the three color dimensions from the standard
color values representing the onion slices, were utilized to calculate the total
color change (dE). The browning index (BI), indicating the purity of the brown
color of the onion slices, was calculated using Eqs. (1) and (2) (Maskan 2001):
100( x - 0.31)
0.17
a + 1.75 L
x=
5.645 L + a - 3.012b
BI =

(1)
(2)

where L = whiteness or brightness/darkness; a = redness/greenness; b =


yellowness/blueness.
Small values of dE, BI and x indicate acceptable color quality.
Rehydration moisture was estimated by reconstituting the dried onion
slices in boiling water (Maskan 2001). The rehydrated moisture content was
reported as percentage on a wet weight basis.
Statistical Analyses
The results were analyzed with analysis of variance (ANOVA) software.
Regression equations were developed from experimental results. Correlation
coefficients were calculated from predicted and experimental drying process
and from onion slice quality variables. Significance of P 0.05 or P 0.65
in onion slice thickness was noted.

60
70
80
60
60
60
60
60
60
60
60
60

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12

2
2
2
2*
4**
6**
2
2
2
2
2
2

Slice
thickness
(mm)*

*SD-0.5; **SD-0.65.
To dry the product 78% moisture.

Drying
temperature
(C)

S. No.

40
40
40
40
40
40
30
40
50
40
40
40

Air
temperature
(C)
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
1.4
0.8

Air
velocity
(m/s)
220
160
140
220
280
320
340
220
240
220
260
320

Drying
time
(min)
16.95
16.70
15.67
16.95
15.27
14.07
15.54
16.95
9.06
16.95
18.29
15.46

Pyruvic
acid content
(mmol/g)
20.63
22.58
22.65
20.63
25.67
29.46
25.03
20.63
24.25
20.63
23.78
21.50

Total color
change

TABLE 1.
QUALITY OF ONION SLICES DRIED AT SELECTED PROCESSING CONDITIONS OF COMBINATION DRYING

13.74
20.56
20.70
13.74
14.30
21.94
16.06
13.74
15.30
13.70
12.15
11.80

Browning
index
IR AND HOT-AIR DRYING OF ONIONS
137

138

D.G. PRAVEEN KUMAR ET AL.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION


Processing Temperatures and Drying
The moisture curves for the drying of onion slices are presented in Fig. 2.
The drying characteristics of onion slices were significantly influenced by the
drying temperature. The increase in drying temperatures resulted in increased
rates of heat and mass transfer, leading to a reduction in drying times. A
reduction of 36.7% in drying time was observed when the drying temperature
was increased from 60C to 80C. Similar trends were observed by Mazza and
LeMaguer (1980) and Sarsavadia et al. (1999) during the convection drying
of onion slices. Faster drying rates were also observed by Mongpraneet et al.
(2002) during the far-IR onion drying under vacuum conditions.
The pyruvic acid contents of the onion slices (Table 1) decreased with
increases in drying temperature. Similar observations were reported by Adam
et al. (2000) and Sharma and Prasad (2001). The loss of pyruvic acid may be
attributed to the damage to the cell structure of the onion slices and to
subsequent losses of allinase at elevated temperatures. Compared to fresh
onion slices, the pyruvic acid content in the dried onion slices decreased by
100
90

60C
70C
80C

Moisture content (% Wb)

80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
0

20

40

60

80

100

120

140

160

180

200

220

Time (min)
FIG. 2. MOISTURE OF ONION SLICES AT SELECTED DRYING TEMPERATURES
Air temperature, 40C; slice thickness, 2 mm; air velocity, 2 m/s.

240

IR AND HOT-AIR DRYING OF ONIONS

139

2225%, resulting in what may be considered an acceptable concentration,


considering even greater losses during hot-air drying. Drying 2-mm-thick
onion slices at temperatures of 80C resulted in 65% loss in the pungent
pyruvic acid component (Adam et al. 2000).
The color of the onion slices, expressed as dE, and the BI, are presented
in Table 1. The dEs and the BIs verify the observed browning of the onion
slices as the drying temperature is increased. Sugars in the dehydrated onion
play a major role in the temperature-dependent nonenzymatic browning of
onion slices (Singh and Kumar 1984).
Considering flavor and color as the two important quality criteria of dried
onion slices, the drying temperature of 60C was the best among the experimental temperatures selected, and a drying temperature of 60C was maintained
for the remaining experiments. Mazza and LeMaguer (1980) and Adam et al.
(2000) also reported that drying temperatures of approximately 60C were
favorable to the retention of the flavor and of the color of dried onion slices.
Slice Thickness and Drying
A variation in slice thickness altered the drying time (Fig. 3). Changes
in the quality parameters of the selected thicknesses of the onion slices are
100
90
6 mm

Moisture content (% Wb)

80

4 mm

70

2 mm

60
50
40
30
20
10
0
0

40

80

120

160

200

240

280

320

Time (min)

FIG. 3. MOISTURE OF ONION SLICES WITH THICKNESS OF 2 mm, DRYING


TEMPERATURE OF 60C, AIR TEMPERATURE OF 40C AND AIR VELOCITY OF 2 m/s

360

140

D.G. PRAVEEN KUMAR ET AL.

provided in Table 1. The time required for drying increased by nearly 31%
when the onion slice thickness was increased by 4 mm. The extent of IR
penetration varies with the physicochemical nature of the food. Increases in
thickness reduce the penetration of the IR radiation and thereby decreases the
rate of mass transfer. Hence, the selection of the most appropriate thickness
for efficient IR drying is a critical factor. In the optimization of slice thickness
for IR drying, the drying time, energy costs and onion slice quality must be
kept in view. Onion slices with 2-mm thickness resulted in the quickest
drying.
Greater losses of pyruvic acid (9.91%) that were observed as the slice
thicknesses increased were attributed to longer drying times that were necessary to accommodate the increased thickness. Increase in slice thickness also
increased the dE and the BI, again attributed to increased drying time with
thicker onion slices. Many reports (Prabhanjan et al. 1995; Maskan 2001)
report the effect of drying times and temperatures on the flavor and color of
dried onion products.
The drying of the thin onion slices (2 mm) resulted in better quality dried
onion slices, based on color and on pyruvic acid content, in relatively shorter
drying times. Adam et al. (2000) observed that during the convection drying
of onion slices, the maintenance of thin onion slices resulted in better dried
onion slice quality. Additional experiments were carried out maintaining an
onion slice thickness of 2 mm.
Air Temperature and Drying
Increased drying temperatures reduced the drying time (Fig. 4). Drying
with air at 30C required considerably longer time (340 min) to reduce the
moisture content to the desired 78% moisture (Table 1). Although the IR
drying temperatures were maintained at 60C, the warm air flow at 30C cooled
the surface of the onion slices quickly, leading to reduced drying efficiency.
An increase in air temperature by 10C reduced the drying time by 35%.
Ginzburg (1969) also observed a decrease in drying times with increases in
air temperature during the combination drying of slow-drying foods. However,
when the drying temperatures were increased to 50C, a significant reduction
in drying time was not observed.
An air temperature of 40C slightly improved the retention of pyruvic acid
compared to the retention of pyruvic acid in onion slices dried at 30C. The
greater retention of pyruvic acid may be attributed to the reduced drying time
at the elevated temperatures. However, when drying temperatures were further
increased to 50C, the pyruvic acid content in the onion slices was reduced
drastically to 9.06 mmol/g, which was attributed to the increase in the drying
temperature.

IR AND HOT-AIR DRYING OF ONIONS

141

100

30C
40C
50C

90

Moisture content (% Wb)

80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
0

40

80

120

160

200

240

280

320

360

Time (min)
FIG. 4. MOISTURE OF ONION SLICES AT SELECTED AIR TEMPERATURES
Drying temperature, 60C; slice thickness, 2 mm; air velocity, 2 m/s.

The variation in the colors of dried onion slices values are related to the
combination of drying temperature and drying time. The lower drying temperature (30C) requiring longer drying time and the higher drying temperature
(50C) requiring smaller drying time exhibited similar color changes. Drying
temperatures of 40C resulted in onion slices of more desirable color than
drying temperatures of 30 or 50C.
Combination-mode drying with moderate air temperatures of 40C
resulted in the most acceptable dried onion slices on the basis of color changes
and pyruvic acid contents. Air temperatures of 40C were selected for additional experiments.
Air Velocity and Drying
The moisture curves (Fig. 5) illustrate that the drying characteristics of
onion slices are influenced by air velocity. When the air velocity was increased
from 0.8 m/s to 1.4 m/s or to 2.0 m/s, the drying time was reduced (Table 1)
as a result of greater rates of mass transfer. The drying times were reduced

142

D.G. PRAVEEN KUMAR ET AL.

100

0.8 m/s
90

1.4 m/s
2.0 m/s

Moisture content (% Wb)

80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
0

40

80

120

160

200

240

280

320

360

Time (min)

FIG. 5. MOISTURE OF ONION SLICES AT SELECTED AIR VELOCITY


Processing temperature, 60C; slice thickness, 2 mm; air temperature, 40C.

by 19% and by 31% when the onion slices were dried at 1.4-m/s and 2.0-m/
s air flow velocity, respectively. Air flow at smaller velocities may not be
effective in penetrating the onion slices or in evaporating adequate moisture
from the onion slice surfaces. Increasing the air velocity may evaporate more
moisture from the onion slice surfaces, resulting in faster drying rates. However, very high air velocities may result in a negative effect resulting from the
evaporative cooling of the onion slice surfaces. The evaporative cooling effect
resulting from excessive air flow velocities was also reported by Sharma and
Prasad (2001) during the combined microwave and hot-air drying of garlic
cloves. Mazza and LeMaguer (1980) also reported that increasing the air flow
velocity beyond a certain velocity resulted in increased drying times.
The pyruvic acid contents of the dried onion slices varied with air velocity. Although a direct relationship between peruvic acid content and drying
air velocity was not observed, the retention of pyruvic acid may be related to
the variability in drying times. Although marginal increases in pyruvic acid
content were observed when the drying air velocity was reduced from 2.0 m/
s to 1.4 m/s, the pyruvic acid content decreased to 15.46 mmol/g on further

IR AND HOT-AIR DRYING OF ONIONS

143

reduction in drying air velocity to 0.8 m/s. Marginal decreases in browning


indices were noticed with the reduction in drying air velocities. The variability
in the browning indices was attributed to the variability in the drying times.
In the present study, an air velocity of 1.42.0 m/s provided the most desirable
dried onion slices. Faster-drying air velocities resulted in the slight fluidization
of the partially dried onion slices, which may be desirable during IR drying,
because greater fluidization exposes greater surface areas of the drying onion
slices to IR irradiation. The air velocities can also be optimized on the basis
of the evaporative cooling effect, energy input and onion slice fluidization at
selected stages of combination drying.
Model Development
Moisture contents (887%) and drying process variables, namely, drying
temperature (60, 70 or 80C), onion slice thickness (2, 4 or 6 mm), air temperature (30, 40 or 50C) and air velocity (0.8, 1.4 or 2.0 m/s), were correlated
with drying times. A multivariate equation (Eq. 3) was developed using partial
least squares regression to predict the drying time at given moisture contents:
Drying time = 600.66 - 3.46x1 + 6.65x2 - 2.33x3 - 22.26x4 - 3.02x5

(3)

where x1, x2, x3, x4 and x5 are drying temperature, slice thickness, air temperature, air velocity and onion slice moisture content, respectively.
The predicted drying times gave a very good fit (R2 = 0.92) with the plot
of experimental variables. Similarly, the dependent variable, drying time
(140340 min), was correlated with the drying process variables and with the
dried onion slice quality (pyruvic acid and total color change). The predicted
pyruvic acid contents and the total color changes were estimated using
regression Eqs. (4) and (5), which were developed from the experimental
data. The parity plot presented in Figs. 6 and 7 illustrates the degree of the fit.
The details of the ANOVA are provided in Table 2. The correlation coefficient
of the predicted and the experimental pyruvic acid contents of dried onion
slices was excellent (R2 = 0.96), whereas the correlation coefficient of the
predicted and the experimental total color changes was acceptable
(R2 = 0.86).
Y1 = 71.187 - 0.392x1 + 1.231x2 - 0.133x3 - 5.528x4 - 0.076x5

(4)

Y2 = -28.2771 + 0.29785x1 + 0.79911x + 0.33414x3 - 2.945x4 + 0.05x5 (5)


where Y1 = pyruvic acid content; Y2 = total color change or dE; x1x4 are the
process variables and x5 is the dependent variable, drying time.
Thus, the empiric regression Eqs. (3)(5) may be used to predict the
drying times and to estimate the dried onion slice quality in terms of the
pyruvic acid and the total color change under known drying process conditions.

144

D.G. PRAVEEN KUMAR ET AL.

20
18
16
Predicted values

14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
0

10
Experimental values

15

20

FIG. 6. PYRUVIC ACID CONTENT OF DRIED ONION SLICES

Comparison of Hot-Air and IR Drying


The combined drying process (hot air and IR) for onion slices was
compared with individual conventional hot-air or IR drying processes for
onion slices. The drying conditions adopted for the three modes of operation
are presented in Table 3. Figure 8 provides typical moisture curves for the
three drying processes. The time required for drying onion slices was substantially shorter with IR and with combined IR and hot-air drying compared to
only hot-air drying. A reduction of 30% in drying time was observed with IR
drying of onion slices, whereas drying time was nearly 36% shorter for
combined IR and hot-air drying of onion slices. The greater IR heat intensity,
IR heat penetrability and the synergistic effect of IR and hot-air drying
resulted in shorter drying times. Short drying times were also reported by
Afzal et al. (1999) during combined far-IR and hot-air drying of barley.
Combined microwave and hot-air drying resulted in a reduction in drying
times by a factor of 4 for mushrooms and by a factor of 2 for apples compared
to hot-air drying alone (Funebo and Ohlsson 1998).

IR AND HOT-AIR DRYING OF ONIONS

145

35
30

Predicted values

25
20
15
10
5
0
0

10

15

20

25

30

35

Experimental values
FIG. 7. TOTAL COLOR CHANGE IN DRIED ONION SLICES

The combined drying process of dried onion slices retained greater quantities of pyruvic acid compared to individual IR or hot-air drying of onion
slices. The IR dried onion slices exhibited the smallest retention of pyruvic
acid directly related to the exposure of the onion slices to high-intensity IR
radiation for a considerable time. The total color change of the dried onion
slices was minimal following drying with the combined drying process,
whereas IR drying resulted in substantial color changes which were again
related to the exposure to high-intensity IR irradiation.
Rehydration Characteristics
The quality of the dried onion slices was also assessed after the rehydration of the dried onion slices. The rehydration of the dried onion slices is
dependent on the extent of the structural damage to the onion slices during
the drying processes. The rehydration moisture content of dried onion slices
at selected time intervals following the three drying processes is presented in

146

D.G. PRAVEEN KUMAR ET AL.

Table 2.
REGRESSION STATISTICS AND ANOVA VALUES FOR PYRUVIC ACID AND FOR TOTAL
COLOR CHANGES OF DRIED ONION SLICES
Regression statistics
Y1
(Pyruvic acid content)

Y2
(Total color change)

0.98
0.96
0.92
0.67
12

0.93
0.86
0.75
1.33
12

df

Sum of squares

Mean
square

Significance
F

Y1 (Pyruvic acid content)


Regression
5
Residual
6
Total
11

58.29
2.65
60.94

11.65
0.44

26.33

0.00051

Y2 (Total color change)


Regression
5
Residual
6
Total
11

69.25
10.74
79.99

13.85
1.79

7.73

0.01355

Multiple R
R Square
Adjusted R square
Standard error
Observations
Analysis of variance

TABLE 3.
QUALITY OF ONION SLICES DRIED UNDER SELECTED DRYING PROCESSES
Mode of
drying

Drying
Slice
Air
Air
Drying Pyruvic Total
Browning
temperature thickness temperature velocity time
acid
color
index
(C)
(mm)
(C)
(m/s)
(min)
content
change
(mmol/g)

Combined 60
Hot air
60
IR
60

2
2
2

40
60

2
2

220
340
280

16.95
10.96
9.83

20.63
26.60
30.62

13.74
18.99
15.85

Fig. 9. The rehydration moisture of the dried onion slices following the combined drying process was greater after any selected time interval compared to
the individual IR or hot-air drying processes. The dried onion slices dried with
the combined drying process attained maximum moisture contents of 77.4%
(Wb) after 9 min. The moisture content of the dried onion slices was nearly
27% more than the onion slices dried with IR irradiation or hot air. The
textural superiority of the rehydrated onion slices dried with the combined

IR AND HOT-AIR DRYING OF ONIONS

147

100
90

Hot air
IR
Combined

Moisture content (% Wb)

80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
0

40

80

120

160

200

240

280

320

360

400

Time (min)
FIG. 8. MOISTURE OF ONION SLICES DURING DRYING PROCESSES
Drying temperature, 60C; slice thickness, 2 mm; air temperature, 40C; air velocity, 2 m/s.

drying process was observed when compared to the textures of the rehydrated
onion rings dried with IR irradiation or hot air. In a review by Sakai and
Hanzawa (1994), the rehydration of Welsh onions dried with far-IR irradiation
under vacuum was greater than the rehydration of Welsh onions dried with
hot air.
CONCLUSIONS
Drying process conditions exhibited a significant effect on the drying
characteristics and on the quality of dried onion slices during a combination
IR irradiation and hot-air drying process. Drying of thin (2 mm) slices of
onion at 60C with a convective flow of 2 m/s and a moderate air temperature
of 40C retained greater pungency and color. The combined IR irradiation and
hot-air drying of onion slices resulted in a rapid drying process and improved
the quality of the onion slices dried with IR irradiation or hot air alone.
Empirical equations developed to predict the drying times and the quality of
dried onion slices gave a good fit. The drying process combining IR irradiation

148

D.G. PRAVEEN KUMAR ET AL.

90

Moisture content (% Wb)

80
70
60
50
40

Combined
IR
Hot air

30
20
10
0
0

12

15

18

Time (min)
FIG. 9. REHYDRATION MOISTURE CONTENT OF ONION SLICES DRIED WITH SELECTED
DRYING PROCESSES

and hot air provides a potential alternative to the hot-air drying of onions.
Detailed studies, particularly the determination of energy consumption and
the drying economics during the combined IR irradiation and hot-air drying
process are needed before a future scale-up of the drying process.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors thank Dr V. Prakash, Director, CFTRI and Dr K.S.M.S.
Ragahvarao, Head, Food Engineering, CFTRI, for their kind support and
encouragement. The authors wish to thank Dr B.R. Lokesh, Head, Lipid
Science and Traditional Foods for his help in product analysis.
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