For drying lettuce, centrifuging this product is the first thing that comes to mind. This is undoubtedly a good method that can be used for many products, provided the right technique is used. However, there is an increasing market demand for delicate leafy vegetables. Moreover, lower moisture contents are desired to improve the shelf life of these products. A centrifuge cannot always meet these demands.
Drying delicate leafy vegetables
Sormac has developed a so-called air drying tunnel for drying delicate leafy vegetables. This allows the processing of products without damage and, if desired, moisture contents lower than 1% are possible. The result is an attractive, fresh-looking product that can be kept a few days longer thanks to the low moisture content.
Due to the dramatically increased demand for drying tunnels, this technique is currently enjoying a revival. Sormac has therefore developed a series of tunnels with belt widths of 500, 1,000 and 1,400 mm and lengths up to 11metres.
Air drying tunnel from small to large
Air drying tunnel LDT-50/5D
The air drying tunnel is ideally suitable for delicate leafy vegetables such as spinach and baby leaf, but also for cut iceberg lettuce, etc. This air drying tunnel is equiped with it’s own cooling installation.
Air drying tunnel LDT-100
For the optimal appearance and extended shelf life time. The leaves are dried with dry cool air. Moisture levels lower than 2% can be obtained.
Air drying tunnel LDT-140
The air drying tunnel is ideally suitable for delicate leafy vegetables such as spinach and baby leaf, but also for cut iceberg lettuce, etc. The machine needs to be provided with external cooling. Doors enable access to the inside of the tunnel for inspection.
How does the Sormac air drying tunnel work and what makes it unique?
Before the product enters the drying tunnel, any adhering moisture is removed on a pre-de-watering belt. This is done by suctioning, tapping and blowing. Then the product passes the drying tunnel as it floats between two mesh belts. The air flowing top-down is cooled to condense the absorbed water. Then the air is reheated to be able to absorb moisture again.
The Sormac air drying tunnels have generous dimensions so that the air never needs to be heated above 28 °C. The evaporating moisture keeps the product very cool. Moreover, in the last part of the air drying tunnel, the product is cooled back to a temperature of 3 °C if desired. Because all air circulates in the air drying tunnel, the temperature of the production room is not affected and no additional room cooling is needed. And no less important: because there is no air exchange with the environment, the air in the drying tunnel remains much cleaner microbiologically. And this has a positive effect on the end product!
Would you like to know more about one of our air drying tunnels? Then contact us!
Would you like to know more about Sormac’s air drying tunnels? Please contact us. Our salespeople will provide you with the best advice!
How is an air-dried product different?
A product dried in a drying tunnel to about 1% of adhering moisture is different in many ways:
- It looks fresh and attractive;
- No water will condense in the packages on the refrigerated shelves;
- The product is both physiologically and microbiologically in a better condition, resulting in an extended shelf life of a few days.
Does the air drying tunnel only have advantages?
A superior product comes at a cost. A drawback is that the energy consumption of a drying tunnel is higher than that of a centrifuge. In addition, the tunnel requires more space and higher investment. Therefore a processor needs to consider whether his product needs such high-quality drying and whether his customer is prepared to pay more for a better product.