The use of wood smoke to preserve meat and fish is an age-old technique which has been enjoyed by mankind for millennia. It imparts mouth-watering flavors and aromas to the product, but takes a long time to complete per batch, and involves high levels of manual labor, so it can be difficult to recreate cost-effectively en masse.
Consumption of meat and meat replacement products is on the rise.* The ability to meet this demand when it comes to smoked products is more challenging given the timescales and physical labor involved in traditional smoking methods. However recent technology innovations are challenging the traditional method and bringing improvements in the production process while preserving the right product characteristics we all know and love.
Innovative inline smoking
Leading food processing expert GEA has developed a continuous production method for smoking meat and meat replacement products that results in the same delicious flavors and aromas as those associated with traditional smoke houses and can be tailored to meet the requirements of a variety of applications. The new inline smoking technology can be based on either smoke condensate or incorporate traditional smoke from wood chips. All working within the bespoke CookStar, GEA’s leading spiral oven, creating that authentic taste within a fraction of the time.
In a world first, GEA was able to incorporate inline smoking into a spiral oven, therefore able to supply primary smoke condensate into the cooking process. Purified smoke is generated during the inline cooking process which results in clean label smoked cooked products. Integrated into the latest version of its widely used CookStar oven, GEA’s smoking solution allows food processors to increase productivity and consistent quality by avoiding the use of rack ovens and lengthy batch smoking processes requiring heavy manual labor.
In partnership with smoking specialist Red Arrow, GEA has developed the SuperHeatSmoke, based upon an atomized smoke generator with nozzles integrated into the CookStar. These are used to create a smoke cloud and smoking environment using purified smoke condensate. The process takes approximately 25-120 minutes depending on the application, and the quicker process means that less moisture is lost from the product so final yields are higher. The products are smoked as they are being cooked, further saving time along the line.
There are extensive opportunities for innovation, as processors can use condensates with different flavor intensities and colours. Flavor preferences can be saved in the machine’s control system as recipe-settings, speeding up production set-up and ensuring consistency, with uniform flavor and color.
Because the CookStar has two cooking chambers, there is great flexibility to create different smoking conditions, independently managed. The two chambers can run on separate temperatures, humidity levels and smoke flavors to influence the characteristics of the final product.
The GEA SuperHeatSmoke provides an exciting step forward for food processors, and operates at temperatures above 100°C. The process is suitable for chicken, beef, pork, seafood and vegetarian components.
For products traditionally smoked at lower temperatures, GEA has launched the HotSmoke, ideal for pork bellies and bacon. This comes with the option of using either smoke condensate, or alternatively, smoke generated from wood chips.
Whichever format is required, GEA’s new smoking technology allows processors to significantly cut smoking time, reduce manual labor and ensure product consistency.
GEA supports processors which are not only looking for clean label solutions, but also those which are currently involved in the smoking industry but wish to move towards more efficient methods. GEA‘s inline smoking solutions are also ideal for companies already using the CookStar which are looking to expand their portfolio by offering smoked products.
Ben Kop, Food Technologist at GEA commented: “We’re excited about the opportunities our new smoking technology is creating. Both options produce foods consumers love, whilst allowing processors to keep their running costs low.“