THE PROCESSING INDUSTRY IN EUROPE AND ITALY
Canned legumes allow consumers to eat the products they want all year round, anywhere in the world, with the same characteristics as the fresh product and with guaranteed hygiene and food safety.
The Italian canning industry is known for its high quality, safety and tradition based on respect for the land, commitment and passion; its products particularly coveted in foreign markets. The industry has a strong commitment to ensuring safe, responsible working conditions and environmental sustainability, with major investments in energy efficiency and the reduction of water consumption.
The industry depends on the careful selection of the raw materials and their harvesting to ensure that the products retain all their properties after the transformation process. The origin of the raw materials depends on climatic and meteorological conditions, the morphological conformations of the territory, the specific characteristics of the land where the plants will be grown, and the productive capacity of the land itself.
The production process for canned legumes (chickpeas, lentils, fava beans, peas and beans) consists of several stages. The legumes arrive in the processing plants already dried and after the quality check they are stored in warehouses at a controlled temperature and humidity rate before processing. Samples are analysed in the control laboratory to verify that the raw materials correspond to the established standards; only afterwards are the legumes processed. The raw materials are emptied into storage tanks to reach the rehydration tanks. The hydration of the dry legumes lasts for about for 14-15 hours and the product reaches about twice the initial weight. With the use of rapid rehydrators, rehydration times are considerably lowered. The legumes are then sorted to separate any foreign bodies (stones, organic residues) and flow to a vibrating calibrator that removes legumes that are too small or not whole. After manual screening, they are screened through a metal detector. The legumes are then blanched in water at a temperature of 90°C for 30-60 seconds to deactivate enzymes and remove gases, thus preventing oxidation and discolouring of the product. The legumes are sorted again.
The legumes are then packaged and the brine of water and salt added: this takes place at high temperatures (80-92°C) (176-197F) and further reduces the presence of oxygen. The full packages are hermetically closed before being sterilised at a temperature of 115°C (239F) for 50-55 minutes; subsequently, they are cooled to a temperature of 40-50°C (104-122F) and then put on pallets. The sterilization of legumes also allows them to be cooked. They are stored in warehouses where, after at least 14 days, they are subjected to the last “fit for consumption” checks.
The production batches are then labelled, packaged and ready to be sent to the points of sale.