To learn about the benefits of brine chilling, a contingent from Leiv Vidar visited another Scandinavian processor that had recently added a brine chiller from Alkar, a division of DEC International, Lodi, WI, to its operation. After the visit, Leiv Vidar decided to install a four-truck Alkar brine chiller to replace one of the existing three intensive chillers.
According to Per Lehne, Leiv Vidar's head of engineering, the Alkar brine chiller cools products from 158 to 39°F (70 to 4°C) in 15 to 20 min. By contrast, the intensive chillers took between 40 and 60 min to chill the frankfurters the same degree. Leiv Vidar's frankfurter cook and smoke schedule is approximately an 80-min process, making it impossible for one intensive cooler to serve more than one smokehouse. The new brine chiller, however, was able to handle three oven batches.
The three-to-one improvement allows Leiv Vidar to meet the increased capacity of its smokehouses. The company can now chill all of the frankfurters from its three smokehouses in one brine chiller. In addition, with the brine chiller, the cellulose frankfurters can be immediately staged for peeling. In the past, they were chilled in the intensive coolers until they reached 45°F (7°C) and then were transferred to a holding cooler for another 4 to 6 hr until they reached 39°F (4°C). Batches typically were held overnight, then peeled and packaged the next morning. This allowed more cooler-related shrink to occur.