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Pulsed electric field technology promises easier processing

From easier cutting and acrylamide mitigation to lower oil uptake and crunchier crisps, pulsed electric field (PEF) treatment delivers a diverse range of benefits, as Michelle Knott writes in an article published in the winter edition of The Snacks Magazine 2021.

Knott explains that electroporation uses a pulsed electric field to drill minute pores in the cell membranes of raw vegetables, leading to a diverse range of benefits – both during processing and in end products. For example, the ability of PEF to help minimise acrylamide in potato crisps is one benefit that has been instrumental in driving uptake.

Punching holes in the membranes also allows other materials to pass through the cell walls. Water is the most obvious and this provides numerous processing advantages by making the plant material softer. A visible effect after a PEF-treatment of the whole, raw potatoes can be that water leaks out of the cells, consequently reducing the turgor pressure and resulting in an overall softening of the raw material. Therefore it makes cutting easier after PEF-treatment.

“Easier cutting also means there is less wear and tear of cutting blades,” says Mark de Boevere, MD of Pulsemaster. While much of the focus for development among snack makers has been on the use of PEF with potatoes destined for crisps, it is also helpful for snacks based on other vegetables. Veggie crisps remain relatively specialised, but they are becoming increasingly popular, according to de Boevere.

Market for PEF systems expanding

Mark de Boevere

Says de Boevere: “The market for our PEF-systems expands rapidly. Today PEF systems are widely used in the potato industry to make crisps, French fries and potato specialities such as hash browns or tator tots. The rise in better-for-you products definitely contributes to increasing sales of our Pulsemaster PEF-systems.”

He highlights the potential of vegetable snacks formed by dehydration and drying, rather than frying, as an especially exciting prospect.

“Dehydrated vegetable snacks is still quite niche but growing. A PEF-treatment prior to drying results in a 20% faster drying process and improved quality of the dried products that rival fresh.

“Pulsemaster’s PEF enables high-speed, low-temperature drying above or below freezing point while preserving nutritional value, bioactivity, flavour, colour and a texture better than existing classical methods without PEF pre-treatment.”

Source: The Snacks Magazine. Excerpt above published here with permission.
Related article: Pulsemaster’s PEF systems: Proven to produce long, thin fries from big potatoes
Photo: Pulsemaster PEF-Systems for potatoes, tomatoes and olive oil processing, ready for transport to processors. Courtesy Pulsemaster
Further information:
Mark de Boevere

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