At-home dinner solutions featuring fresh meal kits delivered to consumers’ doorsteps saves time while allowing for the preparation and cooking of great meals – all while upgrading one’s lifestyle. These food boxes contain home meal kits tailored to one’s preferences and dietary requirements while allowing individuals to become at-home chefs with little effort. But it’s what is in the meal kits that keeps these “chefs” connected with a particular brand/service. Many processors are turning to sous vide dishes to maintain their competitive advantage and it’s working to their advantage.
Industrial Sous Vide Processing Adds Value to Meal Kits
The pandemic caused a fundamental shift in the meal kit industry. The Food Institute states that the global meat kit delivery services market is expected to reach almost $20 billion by 2027. The most successful meal delivery services are finding that infusing well-known dishes with exotic global spices and flavors are winning customers over by creating meals that are unique and highly desirable. One of the best known methods that allows food processors to achieve versatility for a wide range of products with various flavor profiles is through industrial sous vide processing. Using aromatics like thyme or rosemary sprigs along with seasonings result in enhanced flavor while products rest in the vacuum sealed bag. Once the product has been cooked and chilled utilizing the sous vide process, consumers can simply finish the final cooking step at home in an oven, on a cooktop or over a grill. But before it reaches the consumer, the bag of their favorite protein or vegetables takes shape in massive custom-built water cook and chill tanks designed to sous vide cook, blanch, pasteurize, and chill a wide range of food products. The precision of continuous water cooking and chilling equipment ensures sous vide perfection for these premium, value-added food products.
From batch to continuous processing, there are many solutions to solve large-scale sous vide processing challenges. Fortunately, processors can lean on food processing equipment manufacturer, Marlen, who will work to identify the perfect solution for their sous vide applications. In this article, we’ve outlined the most common types of systems designed to handle a wide range of industrial sous vide production needs.
Batch Sous Vide Systems Automate In-package Water Cooking and Chilling
Industrial batch sous vide systems automate in-package cooking and chilling of molded and packaged meat products, ready-to-eat meals, vegetables, and soups. Processors with staffing challenges find this solution ideal as only one operator is required to oversee the batch water cook and chill system that offers manual or fully automatic product loading/unloading systems. This immersion technology offers ideal heat transfer efficiency and optimal uniform cooking and chilling as a result of precise uniform and repeatable cooking temperatures. Caged racks eliminate floating product while the fully insulated tanks and lids reduce steam (or utility) requirements.
Continuous Sous Vide Water Cookers Offer Scalability with Precision Controls for Product Consistency
Engineered with food safety, efficiency, and footprint in mind, Marlen’s continuous sous vide water cookers control the water temperature across the width of the belt and along the full length of the tanks to nominally one degree. These systems can be designed with a custom tank size, including linear or stacked tanks for minimal footprint. Automatic loading and unloading systems are also available for a turnkey solution. Processors can independently control the tanks to improve product quality while direct steam injection is used for efficient heating. Multiple probes are used to control the water temperature to plus or minus one degree. Whether processors are utilizing vacuum sealed pouches or looking for a gentle method for blanching vegetables, Marlen’s Aquaflow water cook and chill solutions improve product safety and shelf-life.
Steam Cook Cabinets with Intelligent Controls for Repeatable Results
Uniform processing conditions is the advantage of Marlen’s permanently balanced steam cook cabinets that allow the all-important “breakpoint” to stay where it’s supposed to be which is essential for industrial sous vide processing repeatability and quality, uniform product. When coupling steam cooking with the oven’s efficient air handling system, the need to balance the cabinet is eliminated. With full control of the “breakpoint”, the finished product weight, appearance, and internal temperature are maintained which is essential for optimal results. Innovative design features in a custom designed steam cook cabinet that is engineered around the product, process and processor’s facility can prove most advantageous.
Serpentine Continuous Cook and Chill Systems Handle Large Volumes of Sous Vide Product
Processing large volumes of similar type products in the range of 2,500 to 10,000 pounds per hour? No problem! Marlen’s serpentine continuous flow process delivers exceptional product consistency as every piece of food product travels through the same process throughout the sous vide cycle. With separate cabinets designed to water or steam cook and chill via water, brine or glycol, the serpentine continuous cooking and chilling systems are ideally suited for meat and poultry products such as slicing logs, turkey breast, molded products, D-shaped products, ground beef chubs or pouched product. Serpentine systems can also be utilized for post-package pasteurization.
Sous Vide Processing is Here to Stay
Sous vide processing has been around for a long time and it’s safe to say that it’s here to stay. Looking for some inspiration for your sous vide cuisine? The premier professional chef’s organization, American Culinary Federation, offers a number of sous vide recipes and resources that will keep your executive chefs on the cutting edge to maintain your competitive position in the meal kit market, not to mention further education tailored to stay ahead of food trends and techniques.