The company (http://www.bundaberg.com/info/home/) makes the point that the flavour of their brewed ginger beer is the key to their success, with ‘real ingredients’. Quality and innovation are central to the company. The company also exports to over 30 countries around the world, including New Zealand, UK, US, Singapore, China, Hong Kong and South Africa, and have just been awarded the Queensland Premier’s Export Award for manufacturing and the overall winner.
A guaranteed supply of quality ginger is critical to the company. Growing conditions and time of harvest are important variables affecting flavour.
The ginger is used in a dried form. It is locally grown but, as with most plants, there is a limited harvest period. Dried ginger can be stored from one harvest to the next, or even longer, just to be sure, in case weather or other factors affect the harvest.
Growing transport costs and the need for consistent quality and supply led Bundaberg Brewed Drinks to engage FoodStream to develop an in-house drying system for the company.
The ginger is first washed and peeled using equipment designed for root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots.
The development of the drying process needed considerable care and attention due to the paramount need to achieve the correct flavour profile in the dried product. Such is the subtlety of flavour that organoleptic testing is the only reliable way to test the dried product.
Drying temperature was critical, too low or too high did not work. Whole ginger root needs to be dried, not sliced.
A multi-belt, continuous dryer was ultimately developed to deliver 700 kg of dried ginger an hour. The belt speed is extremely slow (drying time is many hours), and successive belts run at different speeds for product at different stages of drying allowing the depth of the ginger on the belts to be maintained . As might be expected, the ginger pieces shrink as they dry.
The engineering design used 3-D modelling techniques, with manufacture spread across different fabricators to take advantage of their specialty facilities and to assist on-time delivery. The dryer is locally manufactured – Brisbane fabricators Precision Stainless Systems (http://www.precisionstainless.com.au/) and Langford Metal Industries (http://www.langfordmetal.com.au/) both played key roles in the project. The main body was largely assembled in the workshop in Brisbane, then transported to site, saving time and cost at installation.
Food grade plastic belts were used so that flavour carry-over was not an issue and that hygiene and food safety could be assured.
The new dryer is at an off-site facility to the main brewery.
FoodStream engineers worked closely with company scientific and production staff over a considerable period to ensure that the final drying process preserved the flavour.
Even though the final equipment has been exhaustively tested and is now ready for use, FoodStream engineers will be on-site at Bundaberg during the 2014 drying season to further fine-tune the system and monitor the process.
To discuss how FoodStream can assist with drying technologies, use the contact form and we will contact you, or call Gordon Young at on 0414 681200