Bakkavor Master Porridge Manufacture With Steam Infusion

Bakkavor is using OAL’s Steam Infusion technology to manufacture porridge following the successful installation of the advanced heating and mixing process. Research under a £1million Innovate UK project identified grain hydration as a hot spot for Steam Infusion due to the fast heating and unique homogenising effect generated within the unit. Janet Prescott, Manufacturing Manager at Bakkavor Meals, Spalding explains the benefits of Steam Infusion for manufacturing porridge:

"We are very happy with the retrofit of OAL's Steam Infusion technology to manufacture porridge. We have been able to quickly master how to maximise the benefits of the Steam Infusion system and we're confident that the technology offers the flexibility to cook a wide variety of products to delight our customers."

"The system is very fast and has reduced our cooking energy consumption by 15%. It's a quality piece of equipment that's definitely "cook proof". Since the installation, our engineering team haven't had to touch the system."

Steam Infusion Retrofit Lance

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Steam Infusion is a form of direct steam injection whereby culinary grade steam is directly introduced into a liquid product, with or without particulates. A Vaction™ unit, mounted on a lance located within the vessel introduces steam into the product. Lances can be retrofitted to existing vessels dependant on the type of agitation in the vessel.

Steam is accelerated within the Vaction unit using a unique nozzle design that accelerates the steam to Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound). As this steam comes into contact with the product, it creates a large dispersion zone and partial vacuum due to the Venturi effect. The steam then condenses and flows out as a uniform product. The partial vacuum means the unit acts like a pump, so product is pushed out of the unit and replaced with product to be heated.

The technology’s ability to heat product quickly is demonstrated in a whitepaper comparing traditional technologies ability to heat water against Steam Infusion. The study found that Steam Infusion can be up to 3 times faster at heating 1,000kg of water from 20C to 70C, taking just under 4 minutes.

Prevent burnt porridge

The partial vacuum and short residence time within the Vaction™ unit prevent the exposure of ingredients to excess temperatures in turn preventing product in contact with the kettle surface being burnt and affecting finished product flavour and visual quality. Traditionally easy to burn dairy based products taste fresher and are visually clearer.

Grain hydration and porridge manufacture is just one area that the technology has been scientifically proven to offer advantages to traditional processing. Other areas of interest include soups, sauces and ready meals. Trials can be conducted at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing, Holbeach UK. At the site OAL are also conducting research into cryogenic cooling and robotic chefs.