When it comes to processing bulk frozen fruits and vegetables, one of the slowest parts of the process can be the wait while products thaw – and this process can take an agonizingly long time. Using traditional methods, thawing frozen 55-gallon drums of product for juice, concentrate or purees can take days or even weeks. 

For companies operating on tight margins and waiting to fulfill customer orders, this process can be a real pain point, and one which slows the whole production cycle down considerably. 

Whether producing purees, NFC juices (Not From Concentrate), orange concentrate, passion fruit concentrate, or other juice concentrates, the business of processing large drums of frozen products costs time and storage space and can even risk spoilage or food safety using traditional methods.

The Advantage of Frozen Drums in Food Processing

Frozen, 55-gallon drums present a convenient, cost-effective way of acquiring raw product for further processing, which enables companies to save on producing their own juice or purees.

This approach has several distinct advantages. 

Freezing juices and purees extends the product shelf life, providing businesses with a longer window compared with fresh alternatives. Additionally, raw ingredients can easily be adapted for seasonal availability and flavor combinations.

Perhaps even more importantly, frozen drums allow for greater flexibility in production planning and scalability. Businesses can thaw or process ingredients as needed, making it simpler to handle inventory and scale production up or down based on demand.

The Problem with Thawing 55-Gallon Drum: Risks and Delays

Traditionally, the problem with drums has been the thawing process. Usually, companies have relied on one of two methods: either waiting until the product reaches room temperature – an option which can take days or weeks and risks microbial growth; or thawing in a chiller at between 0-5°C (32-41°F) over a two-four week period. The danger with the second method is that although the product superficially appears ready, the center may still be frozen. 

If these processes aren’t managed correctly, processors could risk food safety through the growth of hazardous pathogens or spoilage occurring due to microbes, affecting product taste and appearance.

Beyond the critical health risks, delays in the thawing process can have significant business implications. Extended thawing times tie up valuable inventory, reducing operational flexibility and responsiveness to market demands. This can lead to missed sales opportunities, strained customer relationships, and increased storage costs, which all negatively impact a company’s bottom line.

The Fast Solution to Frozen Drum Processing

There is, however, a simple means of saving time and ensuring food safety and quality with JBT’s chopper-blender solutions. Equipment such as JBT’s Chopper/Blender, Chopper/Blender SE, and READYGo™ CHOPPER/BLENDER can take this same frozen product and process it in as little as two minutes.

A versatile machine that quickly reduces frozen product to a flowable or pumpable condition, the Chopper/Blender range can process frozen concentrate, single strength juice or pulp right after it is removed from the cold room. 

Other solutions such as ice crushers typically reduce content down to softball-sized chunks, which then require an additional step to create a pumpable slurry. The JBT Chopper/Blender rapidly shaves down the frozen drums and, combined with the integrated hot water heating jacket, can turn a frozen drum into a pumpable product with just one machine.

As an example, the Chopper/Blender can process a 55-gallon drum of frozen 45° Brix concentrate in approximately two and a half minutes. The same amount of frozen single strength juice can be crushed in just four minutes and frozen pulp in as little as two minutes.

Unlike the agonizingly slow process used by traditional methods, the Chopper-Blender solutions can reduce large frozen drums to a liquid juice or concentrate in a fraction of the time, protecting the integrity, quality and image of the product in the process.

LEARN MORE about JBT’s range of Chopper-Blenders