Cryogenic freezing and cooling technology is speeding production and packaging operations for cookie manufacturers, and crust freezing is increasingly important for improving the handling characteristics of raw cookie dough, says Erik Fihlman, Bakery Program Manager, Linde LLC.
Raw cookie dough can be difficult to process once the dough is made because handling and forming can vary with temperature. The dough also warms as it moves between stations which may be far apart in large bakeries. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re making oatmeal raisin cookies or macadamia chocolate chip, if the dough temperature is inconsistent, that can affect the repeatability of forming, slicing, stacking and packing operations,” Fihlman explains. “If production issues are becoming apparent or more frequent, cryogenic technology may be the solution. “
In-line ingredient chilling, and in-line cryogenic processing with liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) or liquid nitrogen (N2) can offer significant advantages in speed, space, efficiency and product quality over other chilling or freezing methods.
Linde works with processors to optimize cryogenic solutions which will either fully freeze or crust freeze cookie dough. The depth of freeze on the cookie dough will depend on the specific production process. The Linde food team considers dough ingredients and moisture levels, the shape and thickness of raw cookies, and production factors in engineering a system to apply the desired level of freeze while optimizing the use of the cryogen.
According to First Research, the U.S. cookie and cracker manufacturing industry includes about 300 companies with combined annual revenue of about $11 billion. The top 50 companies account for more than 90 percent of industry revenue (1). Cryogenic technology can be important to production bakeries large and small, as well as to suppliers of ingredients such as flour, spices and even inclusions such as chocolate morsels. Solutions are available to improve process and product quality for various stages of production, from mixing to packaging.
Cryogenic chilling and freezing systems play a role in producing cookie products of all types, from dough to fully baked cookies. Dough products are generally shipped crust-frozen or fully frozen to supermarkets, quick-service restaurants, and other retailers for final baking or sale as raw dough products. Freezing not only helps preserve fresh-baked flavor but helps prevent breakage during handling and shipping. Engineering is essential to match the solution to the food and plant production process to reduce operating costs and maximize productivity.
Below are three ways Linde is improving cookie production with cryogenic technology:
Even before cookie dough is mixed, cryogenic technology can help boost process quality by chilling flour or other dry ingredients as they flow from silo to mixer. The patented Linde dry ingredient chilling system controls the injection of CO2 into the transfer line to achieve a consistent flour temperature within +/- 1ºF of the desired setpoint. This can offer dramatic improvements in mixer repeatability especially when compared to the variability associated with traditional water ice or alternative CO2 chilling methods.
For sliced or formed cookie dough packed in boxes, a crust freeze can improve stackability to speed processing, resulting in the ability to increase production. The patented Linde Impingement freezeruses a proprietary process that is ideal for crust freezing raw formed cookies at high volume. The cryogenic freezer can typically produce three to five times the capacity of a conventional cryogenic or ammonia-based tunnel freezer in the same linear space. (See caption.)
Another popular option for crusting or freezing cookie dough is the CRYOLINE® MT modular tunnel freezer, which can use either CO2 or N2, and is designed for flexibility, efficiency, and cleanability. Modules can be easily added to expand line capacity as demand grows.
Some production plants are limited by storage space in their blast freezers. By fully freezing raw cookie dough at a controlled rate, in-line, the bakery preserves product quality and decreases or eliminates freezer storage time prior to shipment. A cryogenic tunnel freezer or spiral freezer can offer an effective solution, with space-saving spiral freezers generally ideal for higher production rates when space is limited. They range from entry-level box spirals up to the state-of-the-art, CRYOLINE® XF cross-flow spiral freezer. (See caption.)
In addition to improved process quality, using both cryogenic cooling and cryogenic freezing in the same processing plant can offer further advantages in supply logistics.
It should be noted that the same food-grade gases used for cryogenic chilling and freezing can also be utilized for modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), which greatly extends the shelf-life of finished cookies.
The Linde food team performs in-plant assessments, conducts trial production runs at the Linde Technology Center, and works with processors to develop optimal process solutions. For more information, visit Linde (www.lindefood.com), or call 800-755-9277.
Linde LLC supports the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and the advancement of food safety. Linde has a Food Safety Management System in place for all bulk carbon dioxide (CO2) plants and air separation facilities supplying the food & beverage industry in North America. In June 2012, Linde became the first supplier to certify all of its CO2 plants to a benchmarked GFSI scheme, FSSC 22000 (Food Safety System Certification).
About Linde LLC in North America
Linde LLC is a member of The Linde Group. In the 2015 financial year, The Linde Group generated revenue of USD 19.7 bn (EUR 17.944 bn), making it one of the leading gases and engineering companies in the world, with approximately 65,000 employees working in more than 100 countries worldwide. The strategy of The Linde Group is geared towards long-term profitable growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services. Linde acts responsibly towards its shareholders, business partners, employees, society and the environment in every one of its business areas, regions and locations across the globe. The company is committed to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development.
For more information, visit www.lindeus.com
908-771-1491, Fax 908-771-1460
(1) Cookie & Cracker Manufacturing Industry Profile, First Research, May 16, 2016, http://www.firstresearch.com/Industry-Research/Cookie-and-Cracker-Manufacturing.html