apparatus for making a meat analog

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    Apparatus for making ameat analog

    Abstract

    The present invention provides an apparatus for texturizing protein products; the

    apparatus includes a screw conveyor through which a protein dough containing a heatcoagulable protein is passed with the conveyor having an internal conveying sectionchanging in configuration such that the dough is stretched during passage through theconveyor, while being heated to a temperature above the heat coagulation temperature ofthe protein to provide a meat-like fiber structure wherein the fibers are aligned.

    Inventors: de Ruyter; Peter W. A. (3480 Rang des Soixante, St. J ean Baptiste deRouville, Quebec, CA)

    Appl. No.: 256612

    Claim:

    1. In an apparatus for texturizing protein products, which apparatus includes:

    a screw conveyor for simultaneously treating protein and moving it from one end of theconveyor to another end of the conveyor, the screw conveyor including an elongatedbarrel and an elongated rotatable screw means therein, the screw means comprising ascrew root having helical flights therearound;

    means forming a protein inlet at said one end of said screw conveyor;

    means forming a protein outlet at said other end of said screw conveyor;

    means for rotating said elongated rotatable screw; and

    means for heating at least a portion of said screw conveyor;

    the improvement wherein said screw conveyor includes a protein stretching portion, theelongated barrel in said stretching portion having an increasing internal diameter, thescrew of said screw means in said stretching portion also having an increasing diameter,the rate of increase in the diameter of the screw root being greater than the rate ofincrease in the internal diameter of the barrel, the helical flights of said screw in saidstretching portion having decreasing helix angles therebetween, the pitch of the screw in

    the stretching section remaining substantially constant, the cross sectional area betweenthe screw root and the barrel remaining substantially constant, such that the conveyingcapacity of said screw conveyor in said stretching portion remains substantially constantfor each 360.degree. turn of the screw therein and such that a protein product passingtherethrough will be stretched in a curvi-linear manner.

    2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said screw conveyor includes a compaction portionbetween said protein inlet means attached thereto and said stretching portion, the

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    elongated barrel in said compaction portion having a constant internal diameter, thescrew root of said screw means in said compaction portion having an increasing diameter,and the helical flights of said screw means in said compaction portion having constanthelix angles therebetween.

    3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said screw conveyor includes a mixing and feedingportion between said protein inlet means attached thereto and said compaction portion,the elongated barrel in said mixing and feeding portion having a constant internaldiameter, the screw root of said screw means in said mixing and feeding portion having aconstant diameter, and the helical flights of said screw means in said mixing and feedingsection having constant helix angles therebetween.

    4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein the stretching portion of said screw conveyor has alength of between 5 and 40 times the internal diameter of the barrel in the mixing andfeeding portion thereof.

    Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

    The present invention relates to an apparatus useful for texturizing proteins. Meat analogproducts are well known in the art as are various methods of preparing such meat analogproducts. Generally, the meat analog products have found some use as substitutes fornatural meat products as they often contain less calories and a higher protein content.However, public acceptance and use of the products has still been limited due to thevisual appearance of such products. Although developments in the art have enabled oneto manufacture meat analog products having superior properties as far as nutrition andcost is concerned, the products still do not possess the desired meat-like or fibrousappearance and texture.

    Several different techniques are, as aforementioned, known for making meat analogproducts. Thus, there is the well known fiber spinning or thermoplastic extrusiontechnique which is illustrated in U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,682,466; 2,730,447 and 2,730,448.According to this technique, a spinning dope is formed from alkali-treated protein such assoy protein, and the dope is extruded through a dye or membrane into an aqueousprecipitating bath which contains an acid and a salt. The acid bath sets the filaments orfibers following which the filaments may be bundled together and stretched to orient themolecular structure of the fibers. Further patents relating to this technique are U.S. Pat.Nos. 3,498,793 and 3,559,561.

    A further well known technique for forming meat analog products is illustrated in, amongothers, U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,488,031; 3,488,770; 3,480,442 and 3,496,858. This technique isbasically an adaptation of technology involved in making ready-to-eat cereal foodproducts; a mixture of protein, water anf flavour is prepared whereafter the mixture is fed

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    into a cooker-extruder where it is subjected to heat and pressure and subsequentlyextruded. Following the extrusion into the atmosphere, the product expands to form aproduct which has fiber-like material therein.

    Recently, there have been further techniques developed for the formation of meat analog

    products. One such technique is described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,814,823 and 3,693,533.These patents describe a process and apparatus for forming a meat-like product wherein aprotein mix containing a heat-coagulable protein is formed, the moisture content of theprotein mix being adjusted, following which the wet mix is worked to provide a coherentworkable protein-containing dough.

    The dough is then subjected to a non-turbulent stretching and heat to provideunidirectional parallel meat-like fibers. An apparatus adapted to carry out the method isillustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 3,693,533, which apparatus is a pair of endless belts forming aconvergent space therebetween in a first plane and a divergent space in a second planesuch that the protein dough fed thereto is decreased in a first dimension and increased in a

    second dimension to form a slab of meat analog product.

    U.S. Pat. No. 3,886,298 teaches a technique of forming meat analog products wherein awet protein dough is fed to an extruder wherein it is compressed and heated. The dough,when extruded, is subjected to a pressure drop causing expansion of the dough.

    A similar process is taught in U.S. Pat. No. 3,886,299 except that the pressure drop uponextrusion is low to minimize the puffing of the product.

    It is an object of the present invention to provide an apparatus for texturizing protein,which apparatus produces a meat analog product having the texture and appearance ofmeat, and wherein the fibers in the product are aligned in a curvi-linear manner.

    SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

    According to one aspect of the present invention, an improved apparatus for texturizingprotein products includes a screw conveyor for taking a heat coagulable protein andmoving it from one end of the conveyor to the other end. In the screw conveyor, the heatcoagulable protein is subjected to a stretching action. The conveyor is configurated suchthat the cross-sectional area between the screw root and the barrel of the conveyorremains substantially constant, although with a changing configuration.

    In one particular aspect of the present invention, the apparatus, includes a screw conveyorhaving a barrel of a constant internal diameter and a rotatable screw therein, the screwhaving a screw root of increasing diameter with helical flights thereon, the helical flightshaving an increasing helix angle such that the conveyor capacity between adjacent helicalflights is constant, an inlet to the screw conveyor at the end thereof having the smallerscrew root diameter and an outlet at the end of the conveyor having the larger screw rootdiameter, means for supplying a wet protein dough containing a heat coagulable proteinto the said inlet, means for rotating the rotatable screw, and means for heating at least a

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    portion of the conveyor.

    In a yet further aspect of the present invention, the apparatus includes a screw conveyorhaving a barrel of an increasing internal diameter with a rotatable screw therein, thescrew having a screw root of increasing diameter, the screw root diameter increasing at a

    rate greater than the increase in the internal diameter of the barrel, and helical flights onthe screw root, the helical flights being of a decreasing helix angle, the rate of increase ofthe internal diameter of the barrel, the rate of increase of the diameter of the screw root,and the decreasing helix angle being such that the conveying capacity of the screwconveyor in each 360.degree. turn of the screw is constant, an inlet at the narrower end ofthe screw conveyor, an outlet at the wider end of the screw conveyor, means forsupplying and feeding a wet protein dough containing a heat-coagulable protein to theinlet, means for rotating the rotatable screw, and means for heating at least a portion ofthe conveyor.

    The protein dough used in the present invention may be formed according to techniques

    known in the prior art. Thus, an initial dry protein mix may be formed, which protein mixmay comprise up to 100% by weight