GEA announces two machines that contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of the homestyle coating solution centered on the GEA MultiDrum: the GEA BulkLoader and the GEA TenderAligner. Homestyle breading is popular for coating bone-in poultry drums, wings, legs and thighs as well as boneless tenders, fillets and chicken popcorn.
To get the coarse texture of an authentic Southern fried homestyle coating on an industrial scale, it is necessary to achieve a balance between flour pick-up, texture and crispiness. Luuc Lankveld, Sales Steering Further Processing for GEA, said “Reproducing a perfect coral reef look and crunchy bite of homestyle in an automated line takes a combination of machines and ingredients that are in tune with each other. Our coating solution includes all process steps from loading to freezing and packaging, and the two new machines help maintain a high level of productivity.”
The GEA BulkLoader P is optimized for raw meat processing applications and is particularly suited to loading bone-in and boneless poultry products via a transport conveyor into the GEA MultiDrum. Bulk loading enables the belt speed to be increased and further reduces the need for manual handling. Depending on the application, the capacity is up to 7400 kilograms per hour and it enables one operator to run a 1000mm line with increased belt speed and reduced manual handling.
It is an acknowledged problem with poultry tenders that they tend to fold, disorient and they can roll over at transfer points on the belt and therefore fall between belts and remain trapped. To avoid using intensive manual labor to correct this, GEA has introduced the TenderAligner. Poultry tenders are automatically aligned so that they pass over transfer points. This results in better process yield, up to 50 % higher throughput and more consistent product appearance.
The challenges of reproducing homestyle
Achieving a consistent all-over coating on irregular shapes like bone-in poultry is a challenge for coating machines. Homestyle’s textured look is formed as flour and batter fold to form creases on the product. Flatbed breaders have difficulty getting full all-round coverage and do not produce authentic homestyle coated products. Using a flip-style application with three to five flips gets closer but is still a compromise on appearance. A conventional single drum breader, usually with a double pass, can produce homestyle coating but it is labor intensive as it requires converging at the infeed and diverging at the outfeed.
The GEA MultiDrum
GEA’s innovative multi-drum breader with two or three drums authentically re-creates homestyle breading. Products can be bulk loaded at the infeed because the machine evenly splits the product stream without the need for converging. They also exit at the outfeed evenly spread in a single layer across the transport band. Because no additional machines are needed to converge and spread products, the line occupies less space than a single drum breader and requires much less manual labor.
Extending frying oil life
Another area where the GEA coating solution excels relates to flash frying homestyle products. Luuc Lankveld says, “Flash-frying flour coated products always presents a challenge regarding oil life. The tiny particles that come loose and burn can quickly degrade the oil and shorten its life as well as influence the end product’s taste. Our high capacity Oberlin Oil Filter captures and removes particles as small as one micron.” The GEA EasyFry with the Oberlin filter is a fully automatic, continuous process that produces dry sediment. Using it virtually eliminates oil wastage, and ensures a consistent color and taste for the homestyle products.
GEA’s patented technology for the homemade appearance ensures perfect coating on bone-in and boneless chicken with up to 80 % less manual handling than current industrial solutions. Machines like the BulkLoader, TenderAligner, and Oberlin Oil Filter add value to the total process.