TERRA Food-Tech® autoclaves incorporate a flexible probe that takes temperature readings directly from inside the reference container.
TERRA Food-Tech® autoclaves are among the few devices on the market that can record both the temperature inside the autoclave and the temperature of the preserves. And all this can be achieved by means of a chamber probe and also a flexible probe, also known as core probe, which is inserted into a product sample.
Do you want to know what these temperature probes consist of and how they work? We will explain it to you below.
Probes for recording temperature progress
As indicated in the dictionary, a probe is an instrument that is inserted into a body to explore some of its parts or to extract or introduce substances. In this case, the body would be the chamber of an autoclave or the interior of your preserve, with the objective of recording and analyzing the evolution of the temperature.
TERRA Food-Tech® autoclaves have two temperature probes built-in, a chamber probe and a flexible probe. Both probes are standard parts in our autoclaves, as they are considered essential to ensure proper pasteurization or sterilization.
The chamber probe is a temperature probe attached to the inner wall of the sterilization chamber and it is used to measure the temperature reached inside the autoclave. It takes readings of the temperature of the air between the chamber walls and outside the containers. This measurement, together with the temperature readings taken by the flexible probe, ensures the correct operation of the equipment and helps to reach the desired Celsius degrees in each phase, and all of this at the right times. This probe prevents the product from being burned or overcooked or, on the contrary, from not being pasteurized or sterilized correctly.
Although these probes usually work together, in some circumstances expert users may choose to work only with the chamber probe.
The flexible probe or core probe is used to record the temperature reached inside the preserves or prepared meals. In this way, it can be guaranteed that the product is at the desired temperature, during the predefined time and that it reaches the required target F-value0 , in other words, that the actual temperature reached during the cycle is enough to eliminate the microorganisms while maintaining the maximum organoleptic properties and nutritional characteristics of the food.
This probe is flexible and has a reinforced stainless steel coating throughout its structure. It is connected to the microprocessor, which is in charge of recording the temperature and, in case of detecting significant differences between the temperature of the chamber probe and the one inserted in the product sample, it stops the cycle and displays an error message on the autoclave’s screen.
The thermowell is the part of this flexible probe that is in contact with the product and its length may vary depending on the model of the autoclave.
How does the flexible probe work?
The flexible probe can be used with any type of container, except thin-walled flexible containers such as bags or pouches.
In order to insert the flexible probe into your preserve you will need to:
- Choose one of the preserves as a reference sample. It is usually placed in the center of the upper basket since this area is one of the coldest spots of the autoclave.
- You will have to pierce the metal lid if your preserve is in a glass container or can, or the container itself, if it is made of semi-rigid plastic. For this purpose, you must use the drilling kit for containers included with the purchase of one of the TERRA Food-Tech® autoclaves.
- Insert the flexible probe into the product used as a reference sample.
- Once the cycle is finished, the autoclave will show the evolution of the temperature recorded.
In the case of pouches or bags, a data logger in disk format is used, which is wireless, pressure-resistant and button-shaped. This device must be inserted into the container and then sealed, always trying to keep it in the center of the product. Once the cycle is completed, it must be retrieved from the container in order to download the information and record the entire process.
Drilling kit for the insertion of the flexible probe
Depending on the type of container you use, TERRA Food-Tech® offers different drilling kits to achieve a proper insertion of the flexible probe in your sample. We currently have 2 drilling kits:
- For rigid lid containers, we have the KIT-CFS-T kit that can be adapted to all container sizes.
- For semi-rigid containers with flexible walls such as plastic trays, you should use the THW-PG kit.
And if your package is not suitable for using a flexible probe, such as bags or pouches, remember to use the DLDSIK accessory, the temperature data logger in disk format that can be inserted inside your product.
For further information and details about how to use the drilling kits, you can download the following explanatory document.
Secondary flexible probe
In addition to the standard flexible probe included in all our autoclave models, you can also buy an additional flexible probe to record and analyze the evolution of the temperature in another independent sample. In this way, you can ensure that no significant differences are detected between two reference samples.
In general, this additional flexible probe is particularly suitable for R&D in the food sector and for pilot testing in the packaging industry, in order to carry out exhaustive quality controls of their products or new packaging formats.
Maintenance of the temperature probes
As we have already mentioned throughout this article, TERRA Food-Tech® autoclaves have two temperature probes, one integrated in the sterilization chamber walls and another flexible probe that is placed inside a product.
Regarding the flexible probe, after each use we advise you to clean it from food debris with a damp cloth and neutral soap and, in this way, you will leave it ready for subsequent cycles.
In addition, the temperature probes must be periodically calibrated by an authorized technician, especially the flexible probe, on an annual or semi-annual basis depending on use, as they become out of adjustment and require maintenance. Failure to periodically calibrate the temperature probes will lead to a progressive mismatch between the temperature readings and the actual temperature.
TERRA Food-Tech® Autoclaves with flexible probe
We will never tire of telling you, the aim of TERRA Food-Tech® and our autoclaves is to guarantee the correct and safe preparation of your preserves and ready meals. To do this, it is essential to correctly control the temperature and time to which you subject your product, always trying to maintain its organoleptic properties and nutritional characteristics while minimizing the effects of the heat treatment.
Hence the importance of using temperature probes, both inside the chamber and in your preserves. Only in this way can we quantify the partial or total elimination of microorganisms and their spores and, thus, meet health and hygiene regulations, in addition to ensuring their safe consumption.
That is why our autoclaves have many more features and characteristics that will help you to market your gourmet preserves or prepared meals with the greatest success.
A product developed within RAYPA, with more than 40 years of experience in the manufacture of sterilization equipment, our compact autoclaves are specifically developed for the production of preserves or prepared meals and also to facilitate development tests and quality control procedures in the food industry. If you need more information, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be glad to attend you.