Managing phosphates with high shear

Peter Leitner - Thursday, May 25, 2017

meat and poultry blogFor Pete's Sake! protein blog series

Our second installment tackles managing phosphate usage in brines and marinades and the importance of shear in processing challenging ingredients. As always, feel free to send us a question, suggest a future topic, or provide feedback! Want to receive this and other blog alerts? Sign up today!


Process Improvement Tip – Phosphates: why are they so important?

One of the most important ingredients to get right for any brine or marinade is phosphates. They function to open the “pores” in protein creating a cavity so that the whole muscle can hold the brine and marinade being vacuum tumbled or injected. 

Some helpful guidance on managing phosphates:

  • Certain phosphates are better than others but generally, always let your phosphates completely dissolve before adding any other salts as some will not totally dissolve in the presence of salt
  • If you’re having purge loss or weeping issues, always look at phosphate management first. Many phosphate manufacturers recommend that phosphates go into the batch first. We recommend that you:
    • Add the phosphates to clear or clean water in your tank with the mixer running
    • Mix for two minutes, or the ingredient supplier’s recommended time
    • Pull a 12-oz sample and set it aside in a clear container
    • Within 2-3 minutes, the container will clarify. If all phosphates are not dissolved, a white granular material will precipitate and settle to the bottom, indicating a mixer or hard water issue. Our next post will review the impact of hard water on yields
Want to start increasing yields and eliminate phosphate mixing problems? We're here to help! Tell us about your phosphate or other ingredient challenges.

Mechanical Tip – What is a shear mixer and do I really need one?

Think about mixing sugar into cold iced tea. Mixing it in with a spoon and you’re left with grains of sugar. Mix it in a kitchen blender and boom! Perfect. 

Another example is making gravy. When you add starch or flour, the mixture becomes lumpy with agglomerates. Try making that same gravy in a blender and you will see the benefits of shear. 

We use shear in marinades and brines for the same reason. When mixing only water, phosphates, and salt, high flow combined with time are enough for solids to dissolve and become “fully functional.”

But today, along with manufacturers’ demands for higher yields, high shear mixers have to process challenging ingredients like soy, carrageenan, starch, powdered broth, and even xanthan gum to meet consumer demand for reduced fat, natural, or clean labels. See high shear mixing equipment in action in this video.

In layman’s terms, these ingredients are like little sponges. They absorb moisture and if properly applied, bind moisture and sweeteners. That said, these ingredients are often “hydrophobic,” which means they tend to repel or fail to mix with water, and form agglomerates or fisheyes when added to a brine or marinade. This concept is made even worse with chilled water. 

If agglomerates remain in the brine or marinade, they will:

  • Reduce functionality, which reduces yield and increases weepage and purge
  • Will clog injection needles, negatively impacting pick-up yield

So why start this discussion under the heading mechanical tip? After installing over 3,500 brine and marinade mixers, we know that high shear mixers must be maintained with the correct motor speed and impellers, or the shear is compromised and problems start. Often when auditing plants to check on our existing equipment, we see 3450 RPM motors that have been replaced with 1750 RPM. This means the mixer is only mixing at half speed and providing half the shear, and operational, yield and quality issues are lurking right around the corner.

Should I switch to a lower RPM mixer?

If you’re tired of repairing your worn-out 3450 RPM mixers, consider the Rotosolver RXRS. With a lower RPM and larger impellers, you’ll recognize a lower total cost of ownership, less maintenance and downtime, and INCREASED YIELDS.

Plus, they’re part of our Quick Ship program, which means they can often ship the same day. Get a quote today and start saving tomorrow!

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