Extended Vacuum (EV) Modification for SP Tomato Peeler
Steam peeling of fresh tomatoes prior to canning has been employed by processors for many years. In California and elsewhere, a machine called the SP Peeler gained popularity in the 80’s and 90’s, and is still in use today in some processing facilities.
The function of the SP system involves first superheating the surface of the tomato to approximately 240 F, which is accomplished within a pressurized auger system. Immediately after heating, the tomato is then exposed to a vacuum environment where the boiling point is depressed to approximately 125 F. The theory is to cause the superheated water just beneath the skin to explosively flash to vapor, thereby loosening the skin.
In practice, however, the exposure of the surface of each tomato to the vacuum environment was limited by the inherent design of the equipment, resulting in poor peel removal efficiency and significant yield loss.
Crystal Process Equipment LLC has developed and supplies a modification kit for existing SP units that overcomes the limitations of the original design called the SP EV (Extended Vacuum) system. With the EV system, benefits of increased throughput, improved peel removal efficiency, and approximately $500,000 per season of yield savings can be realized.
Currently, 6 SP EV systems are in use by California Processors with outstanding results. The following describes the limitations of the original configuration, the EV modification, and the yield saving potential in full detail.