FOOD & BEVERAGES

Process technologies for tomorrow.

PROCESS SYSTEMS FOR SPICES & HERBS

Preserving the spice characteristics for optimal product quality

Almost every kind of powder-based savoury food product or ingredient – from packet soups to sauce mixes and even bakery mixtures – contains one or more spices to add flavour, aroma and/or colour. Despite being used in relatively small quantities, those spices play a big role in the ultimate quality of the end product – not only in terms of taste, smell and appearance, but also in relation to food safety.

Delicate properties

The properties of most spices are very delicate and are therefore susceptible to the impact of various processing steps. This presents manufacturers of spices and spice mixes with a considerable challenge: how to achieve the desired level of product quality as efficiently and safely as possible.

How can you balance product quality with efficiency and safety?

The optimum way to balance product quality with efficiency and safety depends very much on your own specific situation, including which types of spices are being used in which process steps in order to manufacture which products, as outlined below.

Hosokawa technologies for spice processing

Crushing, cutting and fine milling

Once the spices have been harvested and dried, they are usually crushed, cut and finely milled. This operation has a significant impact on the final product quality. Hosokawa offers various grinding technologies for this part of the process, depending on particle size and product characteristics, to ensure that the unique characteristics of your spices are preserved.

Crushing and cutting

The first step when processing spices is often a crushing/cutting operation in which the spices are gently cut to a specific coarse particle size. Hosokawa Alpine supplies a cutting mill for use with spices:

  • Rotoplex Ro: For cutting spices to a particle size < 3mm.

Fine milling

Heat generated during the fine milling process can be detrimental to the spice properties in some cases, so it is important to select the right milling technology for your application. Hosokawa Alpine supplies two types of fine milling grinders for use with spices:

  • Ultraplex UPZ: Perfect for fibrous spices such as ginger;
  • Contraplex CW II: With double rotating pin discs, ideal for oily seed spices such as cloves.

Ultraplex UPZ fine impact mill

Cryogenic milling

For some spices, it can be beneficial to opt for cool milling (at +5⁰C to +20⁰C) or cryogenic milling (at -80⁰C to -10⁰C) instead of ambient milling. Cryogenic milling enables higher powder fineness, longer product shelf life and reduced evaporation of essential oils, thus better preserving the flavour properties. In the case of white pepper, for example, cryogenic milling retains 94.5% of the essential oil content, compared to just 57.8% retained when it is finely milled at ambient temperature.

Mixing/blending

When it comes to selecting the right equipment for the mixing/blending operation, it is important to match the amount of shear introduced during the mixing operation to the properties of your spice powder – such as fragility, cohesiveness and the fat/oil/fibre content. This will enable you to achieve optimal homogeneity while preserving the product quality and not damaging the product integrity. Hosokawa Micron generally recommends one of the following two batch mixers for spices:

  • Nauta conical screw mixer: Low-shear mixing operation offering a high mixing accuracy for a variety of spices, even the most delicate ones;
  • Vitomix ribbon screw mixer: Twin-screw, low-to-medium shear offers a fast mixing operation in which the mixing intensity can be adjusted to different types of spices. The Vitomix is often used for the homogeneous introduction of liquid oils/flavours into spice mixtures.

Vitomix ribbon screw mixer

Sterilization

All spices are cleaned after being harvested and dried, but they subsequently need to be sterilized to kill off any harmful bacteria or mould before they can be further processed. Hosokawa Micron's batch steam sterilizer (HSSP) performs a very effective yet brief and gentle heat treatment followed by rapid cooling:

  • Minimizes the negative effect of the temperature on the spice properties such as flavour and colour;
  • Based on Hosokawa's conical paddle dryer (CPD) technology;
  • Three-in-one steam sterilizer, mixer and vacuum dryer for extra process efficiency;
  • Batch system: maximum flexibility in terms of time & temperature parameters and batch sizes.

System integration

Any process is only as strong as the weakest link, so it is essential that all the different spice-processing steps are smoothly connected. The Hosokawa Group offers system integration services covering the product infeed, storage, conveying and transport right through to the packing step, whether connected to Hosokawa's big-bag or bulk-container packaging systems or to third-party consumer packaging solutions. Our system integration services provide extra reassurance that your whole system will operate as safely and efficiently as possible.

Hosokawa system integration

Safety and hygiene

Within the Hosokawa Group, we have a strong focus on hygiene by design to help our customers uphold the highest possible standards of food safety while also benefiting from efficiency gains.

  • Machines are designed for optimum cleanability;
  • Often available with a fully automated cleaning in place (CIP) system;
  • Avoid cross-contamination between different batches of spices;
  • Comply with food safety regulations;
  • Optimize production efficiency by reducing downtime;
  • Operator and system safety (CE/ATEX compliance).

Application-specific advice

There is such a diverse range of spices, each with their own characteristics, that selecting the best technology for your application is a complex process of interacting criteria.

Our experts within the Hosokawa Group are always on hand to support you based on your specific situation. They are happy to discuss your challenges and advise you on a high-quality, food-grade total spice-processing solution that is optimally aligned with your needs.

Try before you buy

Test Centre in Doetinchem, the Netherlands Test Centre in Doetinchem, the Netherlands

Our test and process development centre in the Netherlands offers unique possibilities for testing your product to determine the most efficient process, system or plant prior to final design. We can provide laboratory-level as well as production-sized trials.

Whether you wish to test a single machine or a complete powder processing system, the same skilled and experienced staff are here to help ensure that your requirements are met, and that you are entirely satisfied with the results.

From pilot plant to production scale

We offer process equipment and technologies from individual units to large scale bespoke system solutions. Our principle is to deliver high performance yet affordable solutions that meet our customers' demands and long term challenges.

HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?

To learn more about our powder process equipment and systems for spices and herbs, contact us:

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