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Different soups – different soup making equipment
Soups consist of various vegetables- potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, mushrooms, carrots and sometimes even dairy – all of which require different steps. In order to make soup, all ingredients must be properly cleaned, peeled, chopped and sliced into smaller pieces for optimal food processing.
As different vegetables are used and different soup recipes are formulated, changes must be made in the soup production line to include different equipment for pre-treating the vegetables. Potatoes and carrots must be peeled, while tomatoes are blanched to remove their bitter flavonols-rich skins.
After the ingredients are prepared, manufacturers can use different cooking techniques and soup making equipment like blanchers, steamers, stockpots immersion blenders and slow cookers, among others.
During blanching, vegetables are immersed in boiling water or steam before enzymes are deactivated. Some vegetables like eggplants need particular attention because they are sensitive to post-cooking browning. The problem can be avoided by adding antioxidants during blanching.
Soup can be further processed, depending on whether you are making ready-to-eat or dry mix soup. Ready-to-eat soup is deaerated to prevent oxidation and changes in color, while dry mix soup’s ingredients are dehydrated so they can be reconstituted with boiling water at a later date.
How does thermal processing affect vegetables?
Vegetables must undergo an industrial thermal process before being consumed. Heat treatment definitely brings benefits such as increased protective compounds, but it can also cause color degradation and losses of nutritional and soluble compounds (sugars and soluble fibers). Whether these conditions occur or not depends both on the characteristics of the vegetable to be processed such as enzymes or oxygen concentration and on the severity of the heat treatment.
For example, it has been determined that steaming reduces the loss of fat-soluble nutrients better than boiling. Instead, a study conducted by the Institute of Nutrition at Mahidol University in Thailand showed low losses in the vegetable’s β-carotene content when blanching, only 7-11%, while steaming, frying and boiling showed greater losses, 15, 18 and 43%.
To pasteurize or to sterilize?
There are two methods of removing microorganisms in the soup manufacturing process: pasteurization and sterilization. The choice between the two depends on the pH of the soup– most meat and vegetable-based soups have low acidity and manufacturers can fully sterilize them. In this case, sterilization temperature are above 100 °C and the product is then cooled down and transferred into previously sterilized packaging.
If the soup’s pH is in the acid range, pasteurization is recommended. Different temperatures for pasteurization are required to complement the pH range, for example if the pH range is between 3.4 and 4.0, the recommended temperature is 85°C. If it falls between 4.3 and 4.5, the recommended temperature for pasteurization is 99°C.
Soup in cans, pouches and trays
Canned soup is immensely popular owing to its versatile and recyclable packaging. After transferring the ready-to-eat soup into cans, can seamers ensure the product is sealed properly to prevent spoiling and spilling.
Since the invention of canning, soup’s packaging has evolved to plastic pouches that are re-sealable easy to use. High-speed stainless steel pouch packaging machines rapidly package liquid products into flexible pouches with great precision.
Soup trays are also gaining popularity because they can be frozen and microwaved, providing a single serving of soup. During the manufacturing process, trays are filled with soup and then sealed with tray sealers which secure the contents and prevent spillage.