Appetite for plant-based milks prompts HRS to launch Direct Steam Injection

December 8, 2020 Categories: Food - Opinion Piece

Directly injecting steam as a means of sterilizing and diluting liquid drink products is a well-established technique for beverages such as plant-based milk products. Sales of vegan-friendly, plant-based milks have surged 10% over the past two years, and it is now the choice for almost 25% of Britons.

In response to this increased customer demand, HRS Heat Exchangers has added a new Direct Steam Injection System to its established range of pasteurization and sterilization systems.

The benefit of sterilizing using direct steam injection is the speed of the process, with sterilization temperatures of 100 to 145°C. being reached in around a second; much quicker than the fastest heat exchanger systems. For products such as plant milks, this rapid heating prevents cooking of the product and formation of caramel-type compounds which can darken the product or produce unwanted flavors.

Some products, such as oat milk, also benefit from the additional dilution with water which the steam injection provides. In most cases, however the water which is added during the steam injection process needs to be removed from the end product. This is normally achieved using flash evaporation to remove excess steam and help cool the product, but there is a danger that volatile aromatic compounds can be lost, which could have a negative impact on certain products, such as fruit juices. For this reason, not all products are suitable for steam injection.

For products where direct steam injection is desirable, HRS Heat Exchangers has introduced the HRS DSI Series, which injects food grade steam into liquid products, providing an instant increase in the thermal process.

Matt Hale, International Sales & Marketing Director at HRS Heat Exchangers, comments: “At HRS, we are always looking to provide full system solutions for the thermal treatment processes required by our clients. As part of this we have introduced the DSI Series of steam injection modules for the pasteurization and sterilization of products such as increasingly popular plant milks. The first DSI Series unit has been running successfully for a number of months now and we are pleased to be able to offer another solution to our customers.

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