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Tag Archive: Vegetable Blanching

  1. As frozen vegetable market expands, manufacturers must have adequate equipment

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    Vegetables are a staple in any healthy diet. They have key nutrients rarely found in other foods, and taste delicious with almost any meal.

    Fresh produce is delicious, but comes with some flaws. For one, it is seasonal, and when bought outside the natural growing season, vegetables can not only be pricey, but also lacking in flavor and color. Plus, fresh vegetables can expire quickly, giving consumers a limited time to enjoy their purchase.

    The answer to problems like this lies with frozen vegetables. Found in almost any grocery store in America, frozen veggies are not only widely available with a long shelf life, they are also often just as delicious as fresh ones, have the same nutritional value and are commonly more cost-effective.

    Consumers like it cold

    The frozen vegetable industry has grown significantly over the past half-decade. Currently, frozen fruits and vegetables comprise more than one-third of the fruit and vegetable processing industry, according to a report from IBISWorld.

    A number of factors have led to this expansion. For instance, many people have made a conscious effort to eat healthier, but the typical consumer is short on time for cooking. Frozen veggies offer a clear solution to this problem. Additionally, as the world’s middle class continues to grow, more people have access to freezers, allowing them to purchase and store frozen vegetables.

    The processed fruit and vegetable industry as a whole, which includes canned, dried and dehydrated pre-cut foods, pre-made meals and juices, is expected to grow 3 percent annually to $317.1 billion by 2021.

    As the industry continues to expand, and as more consumers show preferences for frozen vegetables, it’s crucial that manufacturers understand how to produce healthy and safe frozen products.

    How vegetables are frozen

    A consumer shopping in the frozen aisle of a typical grocery store may see printed on the side of a package a note boasting that the product inside was frozen just hours after picking. While this is likely true, there’s more to the process than the average consumer might expect.

    How Products Are Made broke down the manufacturing process of peas, a popular frozen vegetable. One of the key steps to the process, after picking and washing but before freezing, is the blanching.

    Blanching is the process of heating up a vegetable but not exactly cooking it. This is necessary for frozen vegetables because it eliminates enzymes and bacteria that could cause problems for consumers.

    PennState Extension explained that blanching also protects the flavor, texture and color of the vegetables. Plus, it shrinks the vegetables and removes air pockets, so more can fit into one bag and they take up less space.

    After blanching, the vegetables need to be cooled before being sorted, inspected and, finally, frozen.

    Turning up the heat

    Blanching requires vegetables to reach a certain temperature for a set period of time in order to inactivate destructive enzymes. According to Food Processing: Principles and Applications, the typical requirements in commercial blanching state that vegetables need to be brought to 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 150 degrees for a warm blanch, according to the Oregon Institute of Technology Geo-heat Center. In both cases, the potato is then cooled to 100 degrees.

    It’s important that frozen vegetable manufacturers know the specific requirements of the foods they are working with. But it’s also crucial that they know what kinds of equipment can help them safely and quickly achieve this state while also being conscious of cost.

    Shell and tube heat exchangers can be used in several capacities in these instances. First, they can be used to warm or cool the heating medium to prepare the food for blanching.

    Second, they can be used for heat recovery. In processes like blanching, heat and energy is given off and lost during the process, but a shell and tube heat exchanger can help capture it and reuse it elsewhere. It can even be used to continue to heat the water needed to blanch the vegetables.

    For information about how shell and tube heat exchangers can improve your vegetable processing operation, talk to the experts at Enerquip. Our team of engineers can work with you to find the perfect solution for your needs.

  2. New processing method creates better-tasting tomatoes

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    flavor A simple and inexpensive hot water bath could drastically change the flavor.

    If you’ve ever bought regular tomatoes from the grocery store, you might have had a few you’ve considered to be bland or flavorless. This notion is not uncommon in grocery stores since the majority of tomatoes come from the farm not fully ripened and green, which leaves them to turn red once they are already stored.

    This process can have tomatoes tasting boring before you even pick them out of the bin at the supermarket. In fact, chilling tomatoes has been found to degrade the flavor of these fruits and the overall quality, Gizmag reported.

    However, a new discovery from plant physiologist Jinhe Bai​ and a team of scientific researchers, found that better-tasting tomatoes could actually be a very simple fix.

    According to the researchers, adding a hot water treatment to tomatoes before they are chilled for storage and shipment increases the flavor of the fruit, Quartz magazine reported. The researchers tested green tomatoes from Florida by dipping the fruit in hot water – approximately 125 degrees Fahrenheit – for five minutes and by letting them cool at room temperature.

    “To produce a better tasting tomato, we added a hot water pre-treatment step to the usual protocol that growers follow,” Bai said. “We found that this pre-treatment step prevents flavor loss due to chilling.”

    Bai also worked with researchers from the University of Florida and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Service to test the tomatoes.

    Counterbalancing preservatives and chemicals

    To keep tomatoes on the shelves longer, it’s no secret that chemicals are used to help the fruits ripen. However, these chemicals tend to deter the flavor of tomatoes. But the hot bath has proven to enhance flavor compounds.

    The very simple alteration to the tomatoes is completed before they are shipped, which produces more enhanced smells as well. Bai explained that the heat treatment regulates the ripening enzymes in the tomatoes and activates the production of a protein that can help prevent cell decay on the fruit.

    “Chilling suppresses production of oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur-containing heterocyclic compounds, ketones, alcohols and aldehydes, including 13 important aroma components of tomato flavor,” Bai added. “But hot water-treated fruit actually produced higher concentrations of these important aroma contributors, even with subsequent chilling.”

    Heat exchangers in processing plants

    The team of researchers is still testing different stages of the tomatoes to determine the absolute best timing for the heat treatment process. Bai believes this will be the best method of action before offering these solutions to tomato processing plants. Some of the researchers’ tests used methyl salicylate​, which is wintergreen oil, instead of hot water to treat the tomatoes, Science 2.0, reported.

    The whole purpose is to help enhance the flavor of tomatoes, but to also provide a better solution to shipping the fruits. Since hundreds of thousands of tomatoes are shipped from the farm each day, processors could use the heat treatment to send more reliable products. Bai hopes the heat treatment process will take off and become a standard in tomato processing. The researcher even believes the adaptation could eliminate the need to chill tomatoes to begin with.

    As the heat treatment testing continues, processors should prepare their facilities with the most up to date shell and tube heat exchangers to help with heat treatment. This equipment can treat tomatoes before they are sent out for shipment, which ultimately provides a better product from the farmers.

  3. New food packaging could be at risk for harmful bacteria

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    A lot rides on packaging in food processing – strict guidelines have to be followed to keep harmful bacteria from entering products. While food processing facilities use sanitary shell and tube heat exchangers to control the temperature of food, contaminates such as bacteria and toxic formations can occur in the packaging process, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported.

    The FDA said the two most important factors to consider in food processing is time and temperature management. Following both closely will help prevent any harmful substances or toxins from growing in the product. The FDA also recommended four other issues to take into judgment during food processing:

    • Know the types of pathogenic bacteria that are plausible in food processing.
    • Understand the initial amount of bacteria that first occurs in the food.
    • Find the temperatures at which certain bacteria can grow and infect the product.
    • Learn what bacteria can grow in certain types of food products.

    Demand for new packaging?

    In the food processing industry, many companies want to create a tasty, safe and easily accessible product for customers. According to a recent survey by Canadean, research discovered that approximately 1 in 5 consumersfind it difficult to open tinned food.

    Of the respondents, young adults between the ages of 25 and 34 were the most likely (28 percent) to be upset over difficult tin packaging such as tuna or beans. However, Canadean also found that only 16 percent of those aged 55 and above found it frustrating to open these food products.

    Even though it’s tough to believe younger adults are griping about how their food is packaged, food processing companies are taking the information as extremely valuable data so they can redevelop their position on packaging.

    New risks associated with different packaging

    However, with new packaging, food processing facilities have to make sure their boxes, cans or pouches are safe for the consumer and don’t have any harmful bacteria. Food processing plants will need the appropriate sanitary heat exchanger to make sure the product is correctly heated, poured and stored without any bacteria growth in the end product.

    With incorrect or outdated shell and tube heat exchangers, food processing plants could risk the possibility of not killing off all the appropriate bacteria in food products before storing them for shipment. Updating the facility’s heat exchangers to efficient sanitary stainless steel units could mean all the difference.

  4. Concerns over bacteria lead to changes in food packaging

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    The concern for quality, health, safety and freshness in food products has increased dramatically over the last decade and brands are listening to consumers’ worries, Food Production Daily reported.

    Michael Hughes, lead analyst for Canadean, a food packaging company, said that more consumers want sterile packaging and material involved with every aspect of their food, which is leading food processing plants to use new packaging, the source reported.

    “Consumers are becoming more aware of the presence of bacteria around them and more conscious about the effect it can have on their health – even if in reality this is overhyped and misunderstood,” Hughes told Food Production Daily.

    Hughes explained antibacterial packaging might reassure buyers, especially when it comes to “on-the-go” products.

    “This can be linked to consumers becoming more concerned about freshness and the shelf life of products, and products that could be detrimental to their health,” Hughes told the source. “This is particularly true if consumers think the product has been imported from afar, which could have had an impact on freshness during distribution.”

    UK worried about canned products

    In the U.K., a recent report from Canadean showed that 42 percent of consumers are more concerned about signs of dust and bacteria on the outer material of the can than deformation of the product. The survey also found that 48 percent of U.K. consumers thought it was more worrisome if the can’s label was discolored.

    The only thing that surpassed all the appearance-based issues with canned packaging was if the item looked like it had been opened, the company reported.

    Keeping an appropriate form

    For some food processing facilities, gelation methods depend on the heating treatments. With the correct shell and tube heat exchanger, facilities can ensure the product keeps its proper shape and that it eliminates any harmful bacteria in the process, Gordon Robertson explained in the book Food Packaging Principles and Practice.

    In food processing, equipment failures can happen when pressure surges and drops. Having the right heat exchanger can provide enough back pressure to balance sudden shifts in pressure.

    “As consumers want to know more about the products they consume and how they arrived in their presence, packaging claims emphasizing freshness and safety can help enhance quality credentials – and as such perceptions of value for money,” Hughes told Food Production Daily.

    Hughes added that most people who buy food packaging products don’t think about bacteria right away, but having clearly marked antibacterial labels could help highlight safety and quality in food processing facilities’ products.

    “Given that older consumers are most worried about the presence of bacteria – which can be linked to a greater level of concern about immunity and maintaining health, the demand for antibacterial packaging will only intensify in the future as society continues to age,” Hughes said in the Canadean survey study.

    Ready to talk about a heat exchanger solution in your production process? Request a quote.