What is Spray Drying in Food Processing?

2020-06-08T05:34:46-06:00 June 8th, 2020|

When you buy food from a grocery store, a fast food joint, or a delivery company, it has likely been through a number of steps before it reaches you! This is something we often don’t consider. That is to say, while we are familiar with the methods we use to cook food at home, food processing actually requires a different kind of treatment.

What is Spray Drying in Food Processing?

Have you ever thought about how they get those burgers to look so uniform? Have you ever wondered how every single tiny sausage in that pack is identical?

While you might not think of these types of food as being particularly gourmet, the truth is that there is actually an art to this kind of food preparation. Give it a try yourself!

This consistency is something that brands rely upon in order to maintain their reputation and get future orders. Just as important is ensuring that food can last. It needs to survive storage and the journey to the store. In addition, it then needs to endure for the time it spends on the shelf and the journey home. It then needs to remain tasty and good-looking in the fridge until the time it gets eaten.

Not only that, but the individual ingredients need to make a similar journey while remaining intact. By the time the food reaches your mouth, each ingredient has been on a journey halfway around the country!

There is a precise art and a precise science that needs to happen here!

One of the key processes in all of this is spray drying, which helps to seal the food and keep it looking and tasting just as good as the day it was pulled out of the oven! Read on and we’ll take a longer look at how this works.

What is Spray Drying?

Spray drying is a process that is used when transporting liquids or any soft-textured foods. That might include an awful lot of the ingredients that you find in puddings and other meals. Likewise, a lot of the food that you get served on your plate will use this process.

The best example is soup that comes in a sachet. Likewise, you might have encountered desserts that are provided in a similar manner. If the food item includes the text “just add water,” then chances are that it used spray drying!

The general concept is simple then: the process of spray drying will turn the food into a kind of powder that can then be reverted back into its original form when you add the water. Not only does this prevent the food from going off, but it also makes it significantly easier to transport (due to being much lighter). Moreover, it even means that it can be stored at more temperatures.

How it Works

So how does this transformation occur? What can food processing manufacturers do to foods and liquids to make this happen?

Usually, this is performed with a device that is actually called a spray dryer. So no surprises there! This device uses a process that is called “atomization.” That might sound futuristic, but it’s actually very simple: the nozzle (or rotary atomizer) will turn the liquid into small droplets. In other words, the liquid or soft material is broken up into tiny drops.

Those small drops are then transformed into powder by being dried. This is done using heated air, which uses a natural gas to warm up. The moisture is removed to a specified degree by using a precise temperature.

Then, finally, comes the recovery process. Here, the powder is recovered from the exhaust gas using a bag filter or cyclone.

And once this has been done, the powder can be packaged, sealed, and sent wherever it is needed in the world!

This is only one such process used when preserving and transporting foods. Another great example is “freeze drying.” The freeze drying process is similar but involves using a vacuum in order to extract all of the water molecules from a piece of food while simultaneously freezing them to make them easier to remove! This process is what gives you the tiny bits of dry fruit that you find in cereal and the small bits of vegetable that come with dried soup.

You can then combine these methods – for instance using food spray drying and freeze drying – in order to make a single product.

What can Fortress Nutrition LLC do for you?

Rest assured that you’re in good hands with Fortress Nutrition. To learn more about how we tailor our blending, ingredient sourcing, logistics, consumer packaging, and other services to meet customer needs, and to find out how we can partner with you to ensure compliance with new GMO laws, contact us today.