Say goodbye to oil-soaked French fries. A new technology developed by researchers at New Zealand’s University of Otago aims to help ensure you never have to eat a sad, soggy fry again. At the same time, the technology makes processing more efficient and also reduces waste.
What is this magic? Pulsed electric field technology, aka PEF.
“This technology, which uses brief pulses of electricity (microseconds) to modify and disrupt the membranes of cells in plant or animal material or microorganisms, has a wide variety of applications across many food processing industries.
The electric field being pulsed through un-cut potatoes during processing alters their microstructure, which results in a more controlled release of sugar, more uniform coloration and reduced oil uptake. It also enhances processing as the softer texture makes the potatoes easier to cut, meaning there is less waste, the ability to develop new shapes (e.g. lattice cut) and increased knife durability (up to 60%).”
Last week, the university launched a 3-month industry trial of the PEF equipment, which you can see for yourself in the video below:
PEF has applications outside of produce processing as well. “This application for softening, you can also use for carrots, parsnips, all of the vegetables we use,” Professor Indrawati Oey told Otago Daily Times. It can also be used to extract pigments and bioactive compounds from food, kill microorganisms in bulk liquids (e.g., fruit juices and milk), and shorten maceration times for wine.