Exploring pulsed electric field processing
Emerging technologies offer opportunities to improve product quality or process efficiency. An ongoing member funded project has, this year, looked at the impact of pulsed electric fields (PEF) on fresh vegetables, meat curing, coffee extraction and hop extraction. The results were particularly interesting when pulsed electric fields were applied to potato.
PEF treated chips
When cutting the potatoes into chips, for example, prior PEF treatment reduced the cutting force needed. This is because PEF can punch holes in larger cell membrane structures, which can result in leaching of cellular contents and changes the physical properties of the material. When fried, as chips, the PEF treated potato did not absorb more fat, but did taste sweeter. Additionally, the PEF chips were lighter in colour than the non-PEF chips.
The 'New Technologies' member funded research project has been running in various forms since 1990, and the most recent incarnation is looking at new technologies nearer to market, as well as a range of medium- to long-term technologies. Continuous flow microwave processing is available in our pilot plant (for a limited time), this offers the opportunity for rapid heating with improved food quality.