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Meeting unique vegetable processing needs

IQF products have become more popular. According to Maria Vieitez, marketing coordinator of OctoFrost, this has led fruit and vegetable processors to expand their product lines to process more exotic products: “This trend has created the opportunity for food processing machinery manufacturers to design equipment that caters to the specific needs of these products. Each application presents unique challenges. One such case is edamame beans. Before being IQF frozen, edamame requires scrupulous blanching to deactivate enzymes and avoid oxidation, but also to maintain its natural texture and flavor. Its thin fines can clog the water nozzle or conveyor belt in the processing machine.”

A Thai producer and manufacturer of frozen edamame faced the challenge of maintaining the right time and temperature during the blanching process, Vieitez explains. “This is critical to achieve the highest quality results, as it helps preserve the natural taste and texture of the product, but their steam blancher could not achieve it. The edamame beans’ hairy surface makes it even more challenging to process the product efficiently, as its hairs can clog the equipment, compromising efficiency and hygiene over the whole process.”

Vieitez states that the Thai company takes pride in the premium quality of its products and meeting the most stringent food safety regulations. “They saw an opportunity for growth in upgrading their blanching technology as food safety regulations reach new levels. To address these challenges, the company sought a custom solution that could handle edamame’s unique properties. To upgrade their method, they acquired a new processing line consisting of a rainshower blancher, chiller, and dewatering system.”

OctoFrost’s blanching solution showers the product with water, which is heated through direct steam injection and falls into the product with a rainshower technology, Vieitez explains: “This method achieves the quickest heat transfer and enables the company to have full control over the blanching temperature and time, preserving product quality. In comparison to traditional steam blanchers, the rainshower blancher enables the producer to save energy during the blanching process. With this solution, the processor can reduce the steam consumption by 30% to 40%.”

“The processing continues in the IF Chiller, which also uses the rainshower system with recirculated ice-cold water to immediately stop the blanching process. The system allows the water to fall into the product by means of gravity to reach a product core temperature of 5°C or less. As a result, product quality is preserved,” Vieitez states. “The final stage before freezing is dewatering, which removes excess water from the product. This critical step ensures that the water from earlier processing stages doesn’t get carried into the tunnel freezer. The processing line is equipped with customized automatic filters to clean the edamame hair during production.”

Thanks to these changes, the Thai company received an international award: “With the new installation, the producer can now process edamame efficiently while preserving its natural taste and texture, bringing added-value to customers. Consequently, they recently received an international award for the superior taste of their product,” Vieitez concludes.

For more information:
OctoFrost Group

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