Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Before ignition of your gas burner takes place a series circuit has to be completed. The series circuit consists of interlocks, pressure switches and contacts. As these connections close and power flows through them, a series of lights will appear on the equipment sequence monitor located on the motor control panel… Continue Reading

There is on each ALKAR oven a series of lights called the sequence monitor, which is usually located on the motor control pane door (usually 18 lights if the oven was manufactured before 1992, 16 if later than 1992). As the oven starts up, each light indicates that safety has been met and it proceeds to the next step. If a particular safety is not met, the process stops at that point, so the sequence monitor will indicate where to begin troubleshooting… Continue Reading

An adequate preventive maintenance program, periodic inspections of gas burning equipment and controls is necessary to assure continued safe operation of important production units. The exact schedule for inspection of equipment should be carefully developed and rigidly adhered to... Continue Reading

If food processing oven is heated with gas, ALKAR recommends that after the processing oven has been loaded with product and prior to start-up, that all oven doors remain open before, during and for a minimum of three (3) or four (4) minutes after main recirculating air fan has been started. This wise precaution allows adequate venting of processing oven, dissipating any gases that may have accumulated. This venting is in addition to the automatic pre-purge cycle venting that occurs after all combustion safeguard check OK, in the electronic circuit and prior to being able to ignite low fire start of main burner.. Continue Reading

For a flame rod Fireye system there should be a 14 to 18 VDC signal present at the test ports.

For an UV Fireye system there should be a 4.0 to 6.0 VDC signal present at the test

The Fresh Air and Exhaust dampers close start close at 3 psi and should be fully closed at 8.5 psi. Note: The Exhaust damper should not close fully, it should only close about 90%.

The Humidity valve will start to open at 9 psi and will be fully open at 15 psi.

The oven chamber actuator, whether it is a gas burner actuator or a steam coil valve, will start to open at approximately 3 psi and will be fully open at 15 psi.

The design of the product carrier can have a major impact on the effectiveness of the oven. Trees, trucks and cages should be designed to give adequate spacing between the products and sufficient floor clearance for proper airflow. A minimum of 12″ of unobstructed floor clearance is needed and structural supports should not block airflow up through the product… Continue Reading

During cooking, a proper “color-setting” step after the smoke application will ensure that the smoke color is developed and set and that it does not fade during or after chilling. In a color setting step, the dry-bulb temperature is increased to dry the product surface and promote the smoke color reaction. The carbonyls from the smoke combine with amines in the meat to develop and set the smoke color. Hot, dry conditions in the color setting step will enhance the color reaction.

If you get blotchy-colored product out of the oven or chiller, the blotchiness is almost always caused by a color setting step that is too short. Lengthen this step, and the problem will most likely go away.

For more information on improving smoke color, see our Technical Papers in the “Processing” section of the ALKAR website.

Cured processed meats contain salt and therefore can be brine chilled with little or no effect on taste. However, because the salt concentration in the brine is higher than that in the product, you can expect that the product will absorb a small amount of salt. We have found that processed products absorb 0.1 to 0.2% salt during brine chilling. In other words, if the incoming salt content of a vienna was 2.0%, its salt content exiting the chiller might be 2.1 to 2.2%.

If you are making a salt-reduced product such as low-salt sausages, you will need to keep close watch on the salt concentration in the brine and adjust it if needed. Often, these low-salt products also have practical limits to avoid crust freezing, so you may already be using warmer, lower-salt brine.

Some natural or collagen casing products may absorb brine more quickly. To prevent salt pickup, we have found that a cold water rinse before brine chilling is effective to help prevent salt absorption.

To get the most out of your brine chiller, the operating brine temperature should be set at approximately 10° F (5.5° C) below the target endpoint temperature for your product. For example, if you want your product to be chilled to a 35° F (2° C) endpoint, then your brine solution should be running at 25° F (-3. 5° C) or colder and your brine solution should be mixed to a freezing point of 20° F (-6.5° C).

There are some exceptions. Some products like turkey breast are sensitive to crust freezing. Turkey breast generally freezes at 26° to 28° F (-3° to -2° C), soto prevent crust freezing, your brine operating temperature should be 25° F (-4° C) or warmer. Another exception is skinless viennas. Typical endpoint temperatures for viennas are 28° to 30° F (-2° to -1° C), but if the brine operating temperature is set at 20° to 22° F(-7° to -5° C) it will sometimes over-chill the product surface and cause peeling problems. For this reason, viennas are typically chilled to 28° to 30° F (-2 to -1° C) using 24° to 26° F (-4° to -3° C) brine.

Depending on the product being chilled, brine chillers are typically operated at 14° to 25°F(-10° to -4°C). As a practical matter, the coldest realistic brine operating temperature is 8° – 10°F (-13°to 12° C). Any colder and it is difficult to keep the salt in solution.

In general, the brine freezing point should be run about 5° F (3° C) colder than the operating temperature of the brine. In other words, if you are running your brine at 25° F (-4° C), you should have your salt solution mixed to give you a freezing point of 20° F (-7°C) (10.5% salt) or lower.

As a direct measure to prevent freezing of the brine solution in the heat exchanger, the freezing point for the brine solution should be lower than the suction temperature of the refrigeration control system.

You can
use the Brine Salometer Calculator in the “Processing” section of our website to calculate the required salt content for different freezing points,Brine Salometer.