Impact of Rapeseed Press Cake on the Rheological Properties and Expansion Dynamics of Extruded Maize Starch
Rapeseed press cake (RPC), an oil pressing side product rich in protein and fiber, can be combined with starch and valorized into directly expanded products using extrusion technology. The mechanism of starch expansion has been studied in detail, but the impact of RPC on expansion behavior is poorly understood. However, it can be linked to rheological and physicochemical properties and is a key product quality parameter. Blends with different amounts of RPC (0, 10, 40 g/100 g) were extruded at different barrel temperatures (100, 120, 140 °C) and moisture contents (24 or 29 g/100 g). The initial, intermediate and final sectional, longitudinal and volumetric expansion indices (SEI, LEI, VEI) were monitored directly, 10 s and 24 h after die exit to measure extrudate growth and shrinkage. The viscous and elastic properties of the extruded blends were investigated in a closed cavity rheometer. Starch and blends with 10 g/100 g RPC achieved a high initial SEI followed by significant short-term shrinkage. Blends containing 40 g/100 g RPC did not show any initial expansion. With increasing RPC content, the intermediate SEI decreased, but all samples reached a similar final SEI due to time-dependent swelling of the RPC blends. With increasing RPC content, the elasticity of the starch-based extruded samples significantly increased. Our study shows that comprehensive control and understanding of expansion mechanisms can be achieved only by investigating all stages of extrudate growth and shrinkage. We also found that the closed cavity rheometer is a powerful tool to correlate the rheological properties and expansion mechanisms of biopolymers.