There is a word that is often overused by companies: leader. It comes from the Old English word “lædan”, meaning ‘to go before as a guide’. Well, when we talk about tomato processing, we are not afraid to say that CFT Group is a true leader.
Since 1945, we have been offering a wide variety of tomato processing machines and complete lines: from the production to bottling or canning of tomato products, such as tomato puree, paste, sauce, diced tomato pulp or peeled tomatoes.
Stages of tomato processing
1. Hydraulic unloading and transport
In a tomato processing line, the product can be received in crates or bins, and the raw material is unloaded into the transport channel via an automatic dumper. Alternatively, in the case of the arrival of loose product, unloading takes place by flooding the bin by way of adjustable pipes. The product is separated from the water by an inclined grid or roller conveyors and the tomato is then collected in a separation tank, fed with cleaner water and equipped with a chain conveyor to automatically remove stones, mud and foreign bodies. At this point the product is then conveyed to the processing lines.
2. Washing and sorting
Tomato sorting can be performed manually on roller conveyors in two phases: the first, in which the roller conveyor is inclined and where the separation of the product from water, foreign bodies, etc. takes place, and then the washing by means of a series of sprayers; the second, in which the roller conveyor is horizontal, and the tomato rotates on itself, so as to allow accurate checking on the part of the operators. Sorting can also be done electronically thanks to optical sorting sensors and / or digital camera optical sorters produced by our company Raytec Vision.
The washed and sorted tomatoes need to be squashed to optimize the subsequent heat treatment phases. The BT60 chopping pump, inserted in both the Cold-Break and Hot-Break technological cycles, guarantees a perfect, uniform and fine consistency of the crushed product. In particular, as regards the Hot Break process, extremely low synaeresis values can be reached by means of breaking temperatures that are almost 4°C lower than the standard values, a factor which also allows considerable energy savings.
4a. Enzyme inactivation (hot break)
The Eldorado inactivator which inactivates the pectolytic enzymes is used for the production of Hot Break tomato paste, in order to preserve the pectins contained in the juice and obtain excellent consistency, colour and synaeresis values. Thanks to its high recirculation flow rate and the particular geometry of its patented heat exchangers, the Eldorado system can operate at its maximum efficiency for long periods of time even in the presence of foreign bodies (such as weeds, leaves, vines, etc.).
4b. Pre-heating (cold break)
Tomatoes intended for the production of Cold Break tomato puree are heated in a special unit, of the tubular type, to gradually heat the product and preserve the natural flavours and colours of the tomato that characterize this type of concentrate. By varying the treatment temperature, a final product of various consistencies is obtained.
5. Juice extraction
The preheated tomato juice is sent to the extraction / refining phase, which is carried out in the Giubileo extractor using the principle of centrifugal separation by means of adjustable blades. This operation is able to eliminate unwanted parts of the fruit, such as seeds and peel. The high efficiency of the separation process allows a high quality juice to be obtained and minimizes moisture in the waste.
6. Pre-concentration (optional)
The refined tomato juice can be sent to an initial concentration phase – from 4.5 to 12° Brix – in the Apollo pre-concentrator, which is a falling film evaporator with Mechanical Vapour Recompression (MVR). MVR technology allows tomato concentration, with up to 98% steam savings thanks to its mechanical recompression of acidic vapours. Thanks to the reduced residence time and a maximum ΔT of 6°C between the heating vapours and the product, the organoleptic characteristics of the outgoing product are of excellent quality.
7. Sterilization and cooling
SFC Flash Cooler represents the best solution for the treatment of large volumes of product and for long operating cycles. Sterilization takes place by direct injection of culinary steam into the product and cooling by vacuum expansion (flash). The SFC system guarantees maximum processing safety, aseptic conditions and the integrity of the final product.
Alternatively, the tomato paste can be sterilized and cooled in the Olimpic TC sterilizer. The product is subjected to a thermal cycle by means of indirect heat exchangers, of the concentric tube type, with high production capacity, maximum heat exchange efficiency and process uniformity.
8. Aseptic filling
The sterilized, cooled product is filled into various sized pre-sterilized flexible bags by means of aseptic filling heads. The high degree of automation of the Macropak filling machines and the checking system guided by a microprocessor with continuous monitoring of all the working parameters, guarantee the sterility of the packaged product. The weight check of the packaged product takes place through high-precision load cells. The machine uses steam both as a single sterilizing agent and for washing the spout after filling.
EXAMPLE OF tomato processing line
Strengths of CFT tomato lines
- Long uninterrupted production cycles
- Maximum yield, minimum production waste
- High quality of the finished product, colour and organoleptic characteristic conservation
- Water recirculation system, minimum consumption
- Substantial versatility in sterilizing solutions and aseptic filling
- Possibility of making more than one product through the same line at the same time
- Less thermal stress on the product due to lower temperatures in the evaporator finisher
- Maximum energy savings thanks to the most advanced technologies
- Complete supervisory control system of the line and checking of all the processing steps
- Recording, viewing and printing of daily production data