A solid fat content (SFC) is the basic parameter, which quantitatively characterizes physical properties of solid fats. There are many indirect methods allowing for the determination of the level of solids in fats based on some other physical quantities. The quantity determined in this way is expressed as solid fat index (SFI). The difference between the specific volumes of liquid and solid fat is used to determine the SFI value using the dilatometric method, whereas the difference in the rate of sound propagation in liquid and solid fats is applied in the ultrasonic method. In the FTIR method, fat is analyzed in liquid state, and the SFI is calculated on the basis on the absorption bands characteristic for selected functional groups that were earlier determined using standard samples with the known SFI values; also, the calibration is used. The spectrophotometric method in the visible light range was developed for the purposes of determination of solid fat index in palm oil; this method utilizes differences between the concentration values of carotenoids in liquid and in solid fat. Owing to the DSC method applied, it is possible to determine a solid fat index based on the melting curves by calculating the area below the curve. Dilatometry is the most frequently used indirect method. Wide-line and pulsed NMR methods are used to determine solid fat contents (SFC). In the wide-line method, the SFC value is determined based on the intensity of a narrow resonance signal coming from protons existing in liquid fat. In the pulsed NMR method, a fat sample is inserted in the constant external magnetic field and protons in the fat, as soon as they are excited by a short electromagnetic impulse, undergo a phenomenon known as relaxation. It is possible to determine the SFC value because the relaxation time of protons in solid fat is shorter than in liquid fat. The pulsed NMR method is currently recommended by international standards and it is commonly used both in research and industrial laboratories.
solid fat content, solid fat index, analytical methods, pulsed NMR, wide-line NMR, DSC