Culinary steam is frequently used in food-processing operations. It is directly injected into the food product stream to control temperature and consistency of the food product. Jets of culinary steam can also be used to open the packaging and sterilize food-contact surfaces. Because it is in direct contact with food products and surfaces, culinary steam must be free of contamination and meet all applicable FDA and USDA food-processing standards.
Delivery methods for culinary steam include heat exchangers and direct injection. Heat exchangers are expensive to purchase, operate, and maintain. As a result, more food processing companies are turning toward direct steam injection systems. These systems cost less than heat exchangers and are smaller, incorporate less stainless steel, and are easier to operate. They also use less energy and steam, which further reduces operating costs. Direct steam injection increases the speed of production and processing because the food product reaches the desired temperature faster compared to heat exchangers.
Improved food safety, lower cost
There are two big advantages to using direct steam injection:
- By being able to purify steam to such exact standards, direct steam injection systems protect the integrity of the food product, resulting in increased consumer satisfaction and demand.
- Direct steam injection systems reduce overall operating costs compared to heat exchangers. Because the steam is constantly mixed in the process stream, 100 percent of the heat is transferred (with heat exchangers, condensate must be collected). Direct steam injection systems also consume about one-third less energy than heat exchangers, which improves efficiency and reduces operating costs.
Importance of filtration
Although steam is sterile and free of microorganisms, it can carry contaminants such as rust, pipe scale, and other particulate matter. It also contains condensed water and chemicals from boiler feed water additives. These contaminants must be removed from the steam to protect the food’s natural taste, texture, color, and appearance. Typically, single stage filtration is recommended as close as possible to the point of use.
Parker Balston steam filters, for example, are in full compliance with the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and 3A Accepted Practices (609-04) for producing culinary quality steam. They also meet the regulations for indirect food additives used as “basic components for repeated use food contact surfaces” as specified in 21 CFR Part 177 and Current Good Manufacturing Practices 21 CFR Part 110. The filters are also accepted by the USDA for use in federally inspected meat and poultry plants.
Other advantages of Parker Balston steam filtration systems include:
- 98+ percent capture rating at .10 micron of solids, excess condensate, and boiler feed water additives
- Six-week filter element life
- Allows for direct injection cooking, making the process more efficient and ensuring more even distribution of heat
- Safe for contacting food
Direct steam injection is a fast, cost-effective method for heating a food product stream, and when properly filtered, it allows food processors to increase production at lower cost, yet still maintain the food product’s natural color, texture, and desired taste on a consistent basis, from batch to batch.
Read this marketing application for more information on steam filtration
This post was contributed by the Compressed Air & Gas Treatment Blog Team, Parker Hannifin
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