Blog / 20 November 2023

PEF in fry production

PEF (Pulsed Electric Field) processing is a technique that can be applied incredibly widely in the food industry. From softening fruits and vegetables for processing to extending the shelf life of juices. As the name suggests, electricity is used in the form of high voltage.

Pulsed Electric Field in food processing versus Preheater

PEF is used in chip production to make a softer potato that is easier to cut. The electric field causes microscopic holes or pores in the cell membranes of the potato. The water molecules can leave, but the starch molecules cannot. The Pulsed Electric Field step results in a softer, easier to cut potato compared to a preheater.

The preheater is a process step that is used in the potato processing industry. It is generally a large tank (depending on production volume), filled with water at approximately 60°C.

This water is intended to soften potatoes for further processing. A tank with a capacity of approximately 30m3 of water is typical for a production volume of approximately 35 tons of fries per hour, with a residence time of approximately 10-30 minutes, depending on variety, season and other factors.

Why Pulsed Electric Field food processing is preferred in the potato industry compared to a preheater:

  • The machine is much more compact;
  • Flexibility of PEF placement within the production process (possibility from after peeling to before cutting);
  • Shorter process step, PEF is direct instead of a minimum 10 minute residence time in the case of a preheater;
  • Reduction of water and energy consumption;
  • When the factory is at a standstill, it does not have a full preheater with boiled potatoes (yield);
  • Improved efficiency due to less breakage and feathering;
  • Improved cutting behavior resulting in less blade wear.

In short, PEF has played a transformative role in the world of chip production. Electric pulses make potatoes softer and easier to cut, unlike the traditional preheater process. With a more compact machine, flexible placement, shorter processing time, less water and energy consumption, and improved efficiency, PEF has proven its benefits. PEF is a great step forward in the evolution of potato processing.

Would you like to learn more about PEF or the potato industry? Please contact us!