How do I extend storage time and increase product quality with good refrigeration?
Stable temperatures during processing, from compost to consumption, will increase product quality. Yet the importance of cooling is underestimated, while you can make a profit out of product quality and energy savings. Results from other sectors in the food industry already demonstrated this. EQUANS now has successfully translated this knowledge into the mushroom sector and developed a mechanical refrigeration system for mushroom storage.
Mechanical refrigeration is key to the best mushroom quality. By limiting the temperature variations and keeping control of humidity, it guarantees the best quality and also provides energy savings and logistical benefits. Every link in the processing process now regulates the temperature in its way.
If the compost is mixed with spores, the temperature must not exceed 28°C. That is why many compost processors refrigerate with fluid CO2. With mechanical refrigeration, you create the ideal growing conditions for mycelium. In addition, less energy is required. You can also cleverly reuse the heat released in this phase to cool tunnels.
Growers often use outside air which is too dry. With new refrigeration technology, you control the storage conditions to an accuracy of 0,1°C and you prevent temperature fluctuations that influence product quality. This also prevents unnecessary watering and feeding. The grower can also save 30% energy, with a pay-back period of less than three years. When refrigerating cultivation areas, residual heat is being released which can be reused in the production process. For the duration of 40% of the year, only 10 kW of electrical power is needed to guarantee the refrigeration of the entire plant.
When storing mushrooms, it is important to create the ideal storage conditions as quickly as possible after harvesting. New technology extends the shelf-life by 5 days while maintaining the weight and the quality of the product. This result in a logistical benefit whereby expensive (weekend) transportations can be avoided and orders can be delivered efficiently.
New developments in refrigeration technology for storing mushrooms:
After the last harvest, you must pasteurize the compost. While heating cultivation areas with steam require an enormous amount of energy, EQUANS offers a more energy-efficient alternative. By storing the summer heat surplus in the form of water into the ground, you can draw on a sustainable heat source for the pasteurizing of the compost.
An ammonia pumping-system pumps up warm water, upgrades it to 80 degrees and transports the high-quality heat via pipes to the cultivation cells. You also spray the required moisture under high pressure and distribute this mixture of warm air and moisture with the help of a so-called Pasto heater (air heater). The compost thus reaches a core temperature of 60 degrees and higher, and you save up to 50% energy!
With the EQUANS system for mushrooms, you have heating, cooling and pasteurizing, all in one. All systems work together, and energy transition takes place everywhere. This way, not a single kilowatt of energy is lost!
At our German client, we were not only able to extend the storage time of mushrooms, but thanks to the application of an innovative method of heat recovery, this client now saves tens of thousands of euros in energy costs.