Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) technology has become a buzz term in the potato processing industry the past few years. This new technology is said to improve the overall quality and safety of processed potato products, and to optimise process efficiency, whilst reducing energy costs associated with the processing of potatoes.
But what exactly is PEF? According to Mark de Boevere, Managing Director of European based Pulsemaster, “pulsed electric field technology involves the application of micro-second, high voltage pulses in the order of 10 to 60 kV to products such as potatoes while being pro- cessed. These high voltage pulses induce pores in in the products’ cell membranes, which in turn results in increa- sed leakage of intracellular content and therefore a loss of vitality of the cells.” He stresses that application of heat is minimised during this process, done within a second without increasing the temperature of the potatoes.
Advantages of PEF technology
According to de Boevere, PEF treatment has shown to im- prove the quality of cut tubers when processed. “We find that cut potatoes have smooth surfaces, sharp edges with no feathering, and approximately 40 % less cutting force is needed when whole potato tubers are cut during proces- sing.” PEF technology enables cutting French fries at op- timum product texture which results in less breakage and shattering, producing longer thin French fries. Reduced oil uptake and water retention leads to crunchier crisps. Improved cutting of crisps is said to result in smoother sur- faces and less coloration. “Pulsemaster‘s PEF equipment enhances the range of equipment available for potato processors and adds a new variation to the way the pota- to product is prepared prior to the frying process,” says de Boevere. He points out that PEF technology can replace the pre-heater stage directly after peeling in potato processing plants. The pre-heating stage is a long process which can be expensive and space-consuming, he points out.
De Boevere is optimistic about the future of PEF techno- logy and its potential applications to other facets of the processing cycle. “We believe there will be new applica- tions of PEF in the near future,” he says. “These may inclu- de enhanced blanching and drying processes, as well as wastewater treatment.” Continued testing and develop- ment of PEF systems are ongoing at Pulsemaster, not only to increase processed yields, but also to reduce the cost of microbial inactivation, drying, osmotic treatment, free- zing, extraction and diffusion processes.
Mark de Boevere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article courtesy of: Lukie Pieterse, Editor-in-Chief, Global Potato News www.globalpotatonews.com