BOC, member of the Linde group, has installed one of its CRYILINE ® MT 5-600 quick freezing (IQF) tunnels and an 8,000 litre liquid nitrogen vessels at Westerway Raspberry Farm, Australia.
For more than 20 years, the family-run business has focused on expanding its product line beyond fresh berries. After investing in mechanically harvesting technology to supply processing berries to juice customers, their attention turned towards setting up a processing facility to better process frozen berries for new markets.
When it comes to producing a quality frozen berry, liquid nitrogen coupled with IQF technology has achieved far superior results than blast freezing or ammonia-based freezing, which the farm was using previously.
Richard Clark, Owner of Westerway Raspberry Farm said, “With liquid nitrogen, there is less cell damage with the berry as the water freezes rapidly. With blast freezing, you tend to get ice crystals that break the cell membrane – and you lose form and get a squishy product.”
“When our berries enter the tunnel, they are evenly spaced and cover the whole belt, so when the liquid nitrogen contacts each individual raspberry, you get the best freezing and product quality result.”
“This technology has enabled us to retain the taste, texture and flavour when the frozen berry is thawed – and most importantly, give Australian customers a high-quality local choice in the freezer aisle of the supermarket,” Clark explained.
Combining state-of-the-art technology with a high-quality hygienic design, the CRYOLINE® tunnel freezer is easy to operate, clean and suitable for a wide range of application. It has high-speed internal fans, controllable gas injection and exhaust levels to optimise the application of cryogenic gases for cooling and freezing.
The BOC team worked closely with the farm to install the system and help integrate it into the packaging line. BOC also assisted in pre-programming each type of fruit into the electronic touch pad, as each type of fruit has different freezing properties and require different amounts of liquid nitrogen.
Since installing the tunnel, Clark believes his business is more dynamic and diverse – with the individually quick frozen (IQF) berry range giving the business an edge and plenty of room for growth.
Clark explained, “As we produce more high quality Australian-made frozen berries, we will be able to get more packets into Australian supermarkets and businesses – offering a more stable price and shelf life of up to two years.
“Our Linde CRYOLINE® tunnel helps us produce frozen berries more efficiently and economically than mechanically harvested fruit. With an added bonus of picking the raspberries when they are perfectly ripe and juicy, and freezing them instantaneously.”
At the peak of the harvesting season, the tunnel could process up to 150 kilograms of raspberries per hour – with a maximum production rate of 300 kilograms per hour.
“We are only just scratching the surface of what the tunnel can achieve – and we plan to fully test its capacity in the coming seasons,” Clark added.