This is boosted by US demand for healthy foods such as hummus made from chickpeas, vegetables, and potato based salads, which can be processed in the retort.
Traditional methods cook the product, then transport it to a refrigerator, where it takes time and energy to cool down. Moving food also increases the risk of contamination.
Saving refrigeration energy
The evaporative retort simplifies the process by covering all stages in one vessel. The machine heats and sterilizes food, then cools it by removing oxygen and lowering the atmospheric pressure.
Greg Jacob, general manager, Allpax Products, told FoodQualityNews.com removing air improves product quality and increases shelf life by slowing bacterial growth.
“Any time you introduce your food to oxygen and atmosphere, you create a system where bacterial growth is much greater,” he said. “We have a dirty and a clean side to the retort, and removing oxygen can give a longer shelf life.
“You are saving refrigeration energy – refrigeration is really expensive. If you can imagine cooking potatoes in a pot, taking them out, putting them in a refrigerator – by the time those have cooled down, it’s taken quite a long time.
Potato salads and hummus
“You’re saving plant footprint, time, and you get a better product because you’re prohibiting the biological growth.”
Jacob said demand for healthier foods in the US has provided a big opening for evaporative retorts.
“The working family today, with mums and dads typically needing to be in work, want to be able to go to the grocery store and get something healthy and fresh.
“When you see these sort of side dishes – potato salads, hummus with flat bread – this opens up a new market for us.”
Retorts can handle up to 3,200lb batches. Allpax’s current clients are smaller brands with a niche market, but Jacob expects more demand for the larger retorts.
“Evaporative cooling becomes very interesting because of the size of batches you can put inside. We’ve got enquiries on this globally.”