The GEA CookStar’s ability to use steam, hot air, roasting, smoking and drying in any combination makes it a true Master of industrial Cooking. Launched 25 years ago as the world’s first double-spiral industrial oven, the GEA CookStar has incrementally evolved into today’s three-phase cooking solution. This unique configuration – patented by GEA – includes a booster / turbo impingement zone between the main oven sections. This extra zone uses high velocity, vertically flowing air to roast, brown or dry the product’s surface.
The added value of the booster zone
Horizontal air flow ovens cook using relatively low horizontal air speeds. This is because higher air speed moves small products and even blows them from the belt. Another drawback of using only horizontal air flow is that products get brown sides while the top is less brown. The CookStar handles the product in the first phase using horizontal airflow with controlled temperature and dewpoint conditions. During phase two, the product surface is dried or pre-colored in the booster / turbo impingement zone with considerably faster vertical airflow (up to 35 meters per second – comparable to a hurricane) resulting in consistent browning. During the third cooking phase, horizontal airflow and a controlled environment finish cooking the product and enhance the browning if required. Paul Verbruggen, Product Manager for the GEA CookStar says “The booster zone also has benefits for products that don’t need browning or roasting. For example, chilled coated products where water activity is important to ensure longer shelf life (organoleptic life), the climate control system combined with booster function ensure that the coating meets exact specifications and is uniformly and efficiently cooked. The same applies for steam cooked products.”
There have been many incremental improvements in terms of performance, versatility, energy efficiency, food safety, cleaning and cost of ownership. In addition to adding the ‘booster’ impingement zone with vertically flowing air, other milestones in the CookStar’s evolution played an important role. For example improved air flow to shorten cooking times and boost yield, and in-line smoking with SuperHeatSmoke to prepare authentic smoked products with even color and delicious flavor – and eligible for an ‘additive-free’ Clean Label. The 3rd Generation combines effective separation with an active climate control system in the main oven sections. Verbruggen adds, “Efficient climate control for individual cooking conditions in each oven section increases the range of applications the oven can handle. This extra flexibility ensures food processors to meet future challenges, whatever the substrate or coating. It provides more certainty in uncertain times.”
Quality, profitability and diversity
Verbruggen again, “Food processors think in terms of the quality, profitability and diversity of their end-products. The machines they use to achieve these objectives must be highly reliable, with flexible performance and excellent customer support”. The 3rd Generation CookStar’s independent control of temperature and dewpoint per oven section, and active separation ensure it has the flexibility to create ideal cooking conditions for every conceivable product. The GEA CookStar’s reliability is also well documented. The very first machine is still operational and 400 more still provide service around the world. Verbruggen continues, “A long operational life is only half the reliability story. Uptime is also critical, and again the CookStar achieves machine availability of 99 % or higher. Planned stoppages for cleaning and product changeover are also kept as short as possible.”
Controlling conditions in the cooking sections
Today’s 3rd Generation three-phase model allows extreme temperature and dew-point differentials between the main oven sections. The achievable differences in temperature (up to 150°C) and dewpoint (up to 50°C) come from an active climate control system in combination with full separation. This means the CookStar can handle every conceivable application, particularly when used in combination with the booster / turbo impingement zone. A flat temperature profile across the full belt width prevents overcooking and guarantees even coloring. Passive balancing is still possible using two parallel air flows in each oven section, and this system is highly effective for many applications.
Passion, performance and reliability
Paul Verbruggen says, “The cornerstones of our continuous success are passion, performance and reliability. The outstanding performance and unique flexibility of the system enables customers to quickly react to trends and differentiate their products. And the machine’s proven reliability keeps running costs down and productivity up”.