High-volume food processing operations that crust-freeze prior to slicing can often quickly improve the repeatability of high-speed slicers while enhancing sliceabililty, quality and yield. The key is matching the crust-freezing process to the slicing operation.
Crust freezing is already in wide use for many protein products, including glazed chicken wings or marinated chicken breasts, in order to increase yield, reduce weepage and dehydration losses, and protect food quality. However, the use of in-line cryogenic crust freezing to improve high-speed slicing operations is still relatively new. Linde LLC, with the expertise of its local application engineers, has been working with companies to show the benefits of this application and how it can be implemented into normal processing procedures.
Cryogenic freezing technology from Linde uses the extreme cold of either liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) or liquid nitrogen (N2) to rapidly crust-freeze in an in-line process. It has proven successful for deli-log slicing operations, where properly engineered crust-freeze sets up the product for optimal high-speed slicing, and can improve moisture retention for higher production yields.
In deli-log operations, every meat has an optimal crust-freezing temperature and depth, and this ‘zone’ must be matched to the high-speed slicer to achieve peak production volume. Of course, the blade must be properly sharpened and maintained, but an optimal crust freeze helps ensure consistent high-quality slices and considerable reduction of fines. This can reduce unnecessary downtime on slicers and yield losses due to “strings” from casings and hang-ups. So there is less product waste and more stays on the bottom line.
“Our technology reaches each meat’s optimal freezing zone to ensure the quality of the food remains intact while increasing the plant’s productivity,” says Mark DiMaggio, head of food and beverage for Linde in North America.
Linde’s Food Technical Center in Ohio can identify crusting parameters before installing a new crust freezer for high-speed slicing lines. The CRYOLINE® MT tunnel freezer, which meets AMI guidelines of sanitary design, has proven ideal for helping to satisfy production demand for high-quality repeatability on stacked, fluffed and shingled slices.
The MT Hygienic Tunnel helps maximize plant floor space through the optimal use of cryogen, and the tightly controlled freezing process eliminates the variability associated with the mechanically refrigerated (ammonia or Freon) rooms and blast chillers. The hygienic design of the Linde tunnel freezer also provides easy access for cleaning to help reduce labor and maintenance time.
Other in-line, quick-freezing technology from Linde includes: 1) the proprietary Linde impingement freezer, which can reduce dehydration losses on glazed or marinated poultry, which may or may not later be sliced; and 2) the new CRYOLINE® CW (CRYOWAVE®) IQF freezer with exclusive rolling-wave action for individually quick-freezing smaller items for packaging without slicing. Both cryogenic freezers feature hygienic design.