Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Department name when degree awarded

Nutrition and Food Science

Committee Chair(s)

Jerrad Legako


Jerrad Legako


Silvana Martini


Karin Allen


The objective of this project was to analyze the thermodynamics (thermal conductivity and diffusivity as well as protein denaturation) and physical properties (percent expressible moisture, cooking loss, change in steak thickness, shear force, texture profile analysis and rheological behavior) of beef steaks of different USDA quality grades (Upper 2/3 Choice and Select), thicknesses (thick and thin), and grill surface temperatures (high and low) cooked to the same internal degree of doneness to determine if a specific set of cooking parameters would create a profound difference in the eating characteristics, described by the tenderness and juiciness of cooked beef strip steaks.

The elastic behavior of the surface and centers of beef steaks were analyzed to determine how the microstructure of the beef responded to applied stress. The elastic behavior of steak centers was influenced in a three-way interaction between USDA Quality Grade, steak thickness, and grill surface temperature while the elastic behavior of the surface of steaks was influenced only by USDA Quality Grade and steak thickness. These interactions along with the differences in the thermal characteristic of proteins suggest that the microstructure of beef steaks is significantly affected by each cooking treatment group. The physical properties in the beef steaks further support through more tangible applications that the composition, thickness, and cooking regiments impact the microstructure and thermal properties of beef and thus final tenderness and texture.

This project identified cooking preparation should take into consideration that quality grade, thickness and cooking temperature will affect the textural eating qualities of beef steaks. Choice steaks were shown to be ideally sliced thick and cooked on a low grill surface temperature supported by the springiness, hardness, expressible moisture, and rheological data. Select steaks were not always effected by grill surface temperature and had similar results among the different measurements but the hardness, resilience and chewiness values along with viscosity suggest a thick steak cooked at a high grill surface temperature. Therefore, cooking parameters may be utilized as a mechanism to enhance beef steak palatability.