PEF for Potato Treatment

Product Examples: French fries (refer to the picture above of the surface of a French fry), frozen potato products, chilled potato products, potato crisps, mashed potatoes, starches.

Aim of PEF Treatment: Cell disintegration, structure modification, reduction of turgor pressure (osmotic pressure). Post-PEF treatment benefits for potatoes include better cutting quality, higher cutting yields, smoother surfaces, reduced oil absorption, elimination of feathering, and decreased breakage.

PEF Systems as Alternatives to Preheaters

In potato processing, such as in French fry production, PEF systems serve as excellent alternatives to traditional preheaters. PEF technology not only yields superior cut quality and reduces French fry breakage and shattering but also enhances drying efficiency. The pulsed electric field creates tiny pores in the potato cell walls, a process known as cell permeabilization, which aids in cutting, blanching, drying, and frying processes.

Potatoes as Excellent Conductors

Potatoes are considered excellent conductors due to their uniform solidity, high water content (about 80 percent), and richness in potassium. PEF-induced permeabilization of cell membranes leads to tissue softening and enhanced mass transport. This results in improved potato cutting, higher product quality, and increased process capacity. The reduction of osmotic or turgor pressure in the cells makes potatoes more homogeneous, evening out the structure and reducing seasonal variation. Field strengths for different potato varieties range from 0.8 to 1.5 kV/cm, with energy delivery varying from 0.2 to 1.5 kJ/kg.

Improved Cutting

PEF treatment enhances potato cutting, resulting in smooth surfaces, sharp edges, and approximately 40% less cutting force required for whole potatoes. Optimal product texture achieved through PEF technology leads to less breakage and shattering in French fries, producing longer, thinner fries. Improved cutting of crisps results in smoother surfaces, less coloration, reduced oil uptake, and water retention, culminating in crunchier crisps.

Potato Mash

In potato mash production, PEF processing evens out structural variations in potatoes, significantly reducing the number and size of lumps and creating a smoother mash for a better texture.

For information on remaining enzyme activity, see: Enzymes

Benefits of PEF

  • Improved cut quality, reducing French fry breakage and shattering.
  • Shortened blanching, drying, and prefrying times.
  • Reduced water and energy consumption.
  • Decreased frying oil absorption.
  • Softer tissue structure allows the use of various potato varieties and cutting technologies to create new product shapes.
  • For potato crisps production: thinner, smoother crisps with more even and lighter color, and a crunchier bite.
  • For potato mash production: reduced lumps and a smoother mash due to evened-out structural variations.

More Information

Equipment

Pulsemaster has developed a range of industrial-scale equipment, named Conditioner, with treatment capacities from 1,000 kg/h to 50,000 kg/h (110,000 lb/h) for cell disintegration of potatoes. Practically no size limitations exist. Our largest industrial-sized PEF equipment, up to 100kW per system, allows processing capacities as high as 154,000-176,000 lb (70-80 tons) of potatoes per hour to meet the growing demand in the potato industry. This results in improved output of French fries in lb/h or tons per hour, reduced ownership costs, and higher product quality.

Costs

On a commercial scale, total costs are expected to be around 1 Euro per ton (0.1 Eurocent per kg / 0.056 US Dollarcent per lb).

PEF + Potato Products?