IQF Vegetable Process (Individual Quick Freezing)
The complete process for production of IQF Fruits and Vegetables at Kulkarni Farm Fresh is as follows
1: Reception of raw products and manual sorting
2: Pneumatic Cleaning
3: Washing and de-stoning
5: Trimming, Shelling, Sizing, Sniping, Pitting and Skinning
9: Individual Quick Freezing
As the process line is envisaged to handle various Fruit & Vegetables each with different Characteristic, the equipment will be fixable to handle different treatments required for each products. The modular system Configuration with the roll-in-roll-out, approach will allow adaptation of the line for different raw material and also for introducing automation if required.
RAW MATERIAL RECEPTION AND MANUAL SORTING
IQF Processing does not change the physical characteristics of the raw products, therefore care is taken that inferior raw products are weed out beforehand. The first step is taken at the raw material store itself there unripe, blemished or decayed product is separated manually. The raw material store is equipped with a ripening chamber where the products can be stored till maturity in controlled conditions.
In this part of the process the light foreign materials form the farms like leaves, twigs land particulate matter are separated out. This is achieved by a cluttered forced air circulation generated by an electric fan. Air flow Irelgulating devices and variable speed arrangements are built in to adjust according to the weight of different products. The waste is collected in bag separately and disposed of periodically.
HY DRAULIC WASHER AND DE-STONER
After removal of light linpurities by pneumatic cleaning, the heavy foreign bodies and stones are removed by means of hydraulic de-stoner. By creating an upward water flow and passing the product over serrated belts the stones etc. are separated and deposited on a continuous evacuation elevator which delivers them to a waste bin.
Combined with this unit is the washger with rinsing and flotation chambers to give the product a through wash in order to remove soil or secretions etc. Which may be adhering to the product. The waste that separates goes to the bottom of the machine and is easily taken out by means of inspection holes. The water used for washing is continuously filtered and recycled. the product discharge net elevator is provided with cleaning device that guarantees the separation of all the product.
After cleaning and washing, the product undergoes another visual check. the product is discharged over a non toxic plastic material belt , on both sides of which people can stand and manually remove any visible bad product. The belt drive is fitted with a variable speed drive to adjust the speed according to the product.
In this section different functions are performed according to the type of product being handled. Peeling, dehusking, taking out the seeds, trimming to size, cutting florets, de clustering, slicing etc. operations are performed. Waste that is generated is collected at frequent intervals to avoid contamination of the product by building up of bacteria due to fermentation.
After cleaning and cutting the raw material it is essential to inactivate the enzymatic reaction which is initiated on cutting the product. The stopping of this reaction adds shelf life to the product and thereby preserves it without the addition of any preservatives.
The above is achieved in the Blancher by heating the product in a definite time cycle upto a certain temperature for a certain time. The Blancher is continuous process equipment and it has automatic controls for adjusting temperatures, and holding time.
the process of Blanching may not be required for certain products specially in the Fruit category. In that case the arrangement to by-pass the blancher is provided.
The products out of the Blancher is at approximately 80 to 85 deg. Celsius. At such Elevated temperatures it cannot be taken 20 degrees Celsius without casing thermal shock to the product. It is important therefore to cool down the product to a temperature between 1 to 20 degree Celsius cooling also stop the deactivation process of the enzymes i.e. it ends the process of Blanching. An added advantage of cooling down is that the product can be easily handled for sorting.
The cooling of the products is achieved by means of a counter flow cooler in order to obtain efficient cooling of the product without causing thermal shocks. The "Water - product" movement comes about in the opposite direction so that the inlet of the hot product corresponds to a hot water outlet whilst at the discharge of the cooled product corresponds the inlet of cold water.
After the blanching and cooling process, another manual inspection station is provided, This is the final check on the product and if any impurity has escaped the earlier checks it is detached and eliminated here. Overcooked products from the Blancher and fermented material can also be eliminated.
INDIVIDUAL QUICK FREEZING (IQF)
The final deep freezing is done in the IQF tunnel. A stainless steel spreader shaker uniformly loads and distributes products across the IQF belt. A vibrator beneath the belt initiates the fluidization on products and assures 100% separation without excessive agitation. Uniform air distribution through the product method of fluidization can safely handle delicate and difficult products with minimum losses by elimination of abrasion of the products.
By this method of freezing each individual part of the fruit or vegetable is frozen separately so that even after attaining a temperature of -18 to -21 deg. Celsius the pieces remain separated and do not form a block.
Grading, after freezing is required in some for the products to sort them according to there physical dimensions as the market demand and prices for various sizes are different.
Two different types of grading equipment is foreseen:
To grade Granular products such as peas, beans a vibrating type of a grader is used which has an oscillating bed composed of various screens with different size as required.
A drum grader is used for grading florets of different vegetables like Cauliflower or Broccoli.
Automatic weighting and packing is done for the 400/500 gm., 1 Kg., 2.5 Kg., and 5 Kg. bags. For all bags above 5 Kg. manual weighing filling and closing is done. Packing is of types:
1: Retail Packing 2: Bulk Packing
Packing material consist of pre-printed or plain polythene bags.
The filled and closed cartons containing packed finished products are sent to the finished product store.
The processing plant of the company will be set up at village Tigadi, Taluka Bailhongal, Dist. Belgaum, Karnataka. For the project company has acquired 9 acre of land the site is well connected by road and lies on the state & national Highway. The food producing belt of Karnataka & Maharashtra are easily accessible for the procurement of raw material.
Various infrastructure facilities such as power, water telecommunication are easily available
The technology used for the freezing process is known as Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) process. IQF technology was developed in the West and is being used by leading frozen Processors all over India. the promoters are well versed with the technology.
Under the IQF process each individual piece, slice, cube of fruit or vegetable is frozen separately so that even after attaining a temperature of -18 to -21 deg. Celsius, the pieces remain separated and do not form a block.
The IQF method of freezing ensures that the quality of the end product is much superior compared to other methods of food preservation like dehydration, canning or bottling as it as does not lead to any loss of nutrients, flavors, colors, shape or texture. The process also results in a longer shelf life (up to 18 months), reduced thawing loss and no product deformation.