There are various methods to heat and cool food product in cooking equipment. The application will dictate the best combination of methods and configurations ranging from stay-bolt or dimple jacket designs, to injected steam and thermal screw heating options. On equipment solutions that use a heating jacket, a dual zone design may add versatility to operations.
Heating zones can be engineered for two separate zones that heat or cool independently.
The first chamber forms the bottom of the cooker tub to the centerline of the agitator. This zone has independent controls and can be used for small batches. The upper chamber can be activated to heat when the batch size and application demand.
The best-use application for dual zones are test market runs, small recipe variations, and staged cooking. Zoned heating jackets provide savings in time, energy, and cost for partial batch production. Depending on the application, significant efficiencies can also be realized by starting the batch in the first zone and adding the second zone to finish the batch.
The advantage of dual zones heating jackets is versatility of batch cooking processes and significant savings in energy costs.
The tenured sales and engineering teams in the Mepaco group are driven and dedicated to solving cooking and processing problems for industrial food processing customers.
The Mepaco team engineers equipment and systems specific to the processing application in each thermal processing project. In mixing and blending operations, application engineering is especially important because product quality and efficiencies are at stake. The food product, viscosity, texture, cycle times, and thermal processing technology including agitator designs are considered in the best cooking equipment solution. Here are a few examples of challenges that were solved by cooking solutions customized to the processing application.
Challenge: A mega prepared foods processor needed to accumulate flowable product after the cooking cycle, while waiting for downstream operations.
Solution: Mepaco engineered heated Buffering Mixers which kept the particulates in various densities in suspension until downstream operations signaled for more product. A single agitator with an inner/outer ribbon was utilized to meet the products' homogeneous state required for quality targets for downstream filling operations.
Challenge: A chicken processor required a scaled tempering, tenderizing, cooking, and shredding solution to replace manual processes.
Solution: Mepaco provided a 75 gallon double agitated ThermaBlend Cooker with ribbon agitators that performed well in each processing stage. The cooker was controlled to temper the meat, massage, tenderize, cook, shred, and finally blend with a thickening sauce. All five processes were completed in the ThermBlend Cooker solution, removing manual operations.
Challenge: A fruit pie filling manufacturer wanted to streamline pie filling cooking and blending operations while maintaining product integrity.
Solution: Mepaco engineered a ThermaBlend Cooker that cooked and blended the fruit, then continued cooking when the sauce compound was added, then cooled the filling within a short cycle to maintain product integrity and increase efficiency. The agitator design was a single shaft with dual paddles and a scraper system to prevent product burn-on during the cooking cycle, and blended ingredients with minimal shear.
CLICK HERE for a video introduction to the ThermaBlend Cooker.
The type and viscosity of food product, thermal processing technology, desired texture, and cooking/processing cycle times are considered when specifying the agitator solution. Primary consideration for mixing or blending agitator solution begins with the ability for the food product to self-level. Agitator configurations also include scrapers with indirect cooking applications.
In some applications, the agitator itself may not significantly affect throughput improvement, but the overall solution does. The driving forces for throughput in batch processing is cycle times, loading, and discharging.
However, the wrong agitator solution will not mix or blend the product well. Solids need to be homogeneous and remain intact during processing operations. Further, the product must remain in a mixed state throughout the process and discharge operations.
During project discussions, Mepaco’s application team defines mixing as adding ingredients for the correct mix and consistency, while blending provides a change of the food product's properties.
The thermal processing solution is customized to the specific application. The PLC is programmed to include agitator speeds, pauses, and direction changes for the desired results. Further, the Mixer or Blender equipment will be sized for the batch volume required along with options (vacuum, cooling, searing, caramelizing) to meet the batch cycle times, quality and throughput goals for the processing solution.
Visit Mixers or Visit Cookers
This ThermaBlend Cooker is available for customer on-site testing and we are glad to have it on display at Process Expo.
In the video, Tom Hoffmann takes you on a tour of the features of this machine in our "Ask the Expert" video series that we are posting daily at Process Expo.
Be sure to scroll through our blog for other "Ask the Expert" videos from Process Expo 2019.
Introducing our newest video: Comparing Kettle Cooking to the ThermaBlend Cooking Process. This video explains the heat transfer differences between a traditional kettle cooker and the ThermaBlend. It also highlights some of the capabilities of the cooker that make it such a versatile solution for large batch cooking, such as:
Learn more about the ThermaBlend Industrial Cooker here!
This system (see video link) was designed to increase capacity and flexibility for processing sauces and soups for a commercial food manufacturer.
The Column Dumper feeds the ThermaBlendTM Cooker with recipe ingredients. The 200 gallon ThermaBlendTM with heat transfer jacket, cooks the product while being gently agitated by dual ribbons.
After the batch is cooked, it is released into a drop tank which is jacketed for maintaining temperature and includes an agitator for continued dispersion of particulates. The batches are then pumped to downstream packaging operations.
The sanitary design platform allows safe and easy access for maintenance and sanitation.
For maximum flexibility, the system allows for two different batch processes or doubling batches to accommodate production demands.
Visit www.mepaco.net for more information!
The above illustration shows the direct and indirect steam capabilities that exist with both the single and double agitated ThermaBlend™ batch cookers.
In the process of indirect steam heating, steam is injected into the ASME thermal outer jacket and heats the product through conduction. Since there is no added moisture to the product, the potential exists for product burn-on. Both the single agitated and double agitated ThermaBlend™ cookers feature Mepaco’s spring-loaded scraper system. By eliminating burned on product, the patented scraper system allows maximum heat transfer and allows for more effective sanitation. Applications for indirect steam heating include: stews, sauteed vegetables, scrambled eggs, granola, ground beef and other types of food products where additional moisture is not desired. The indirect steam cooking option can also provide caramelization if required for the application.
Thermablend™ cookers also have a direct steam option. When additional moisture is required for the product, steam is modulated and added to the food product. Advantages of direct steam cooking include reduced batch cooking times and reduced burn-on. Application examples include: moist pet food, thick sauces and soups. Direct steam is often used when the product is more viscous or has heavy particulates.
Direct, indirect or both steam heating techniques can be used in Thermablend™ cookers. Utilizing both indirect and direct steam options will substantially increase batch cycle cooking efficiencies. Viscosity and make-up of food product, processing and production requirements dictate which type of Thermablend™ and agitator option is best utilized for the application.
Follow this blog for upcoming articles on Thermal Screws, and other thermal processing solutions from Mepaco.
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