Maturation for top quality breast fillet
As markets develop, increasing quantities of product are cut and deboned. Breast fillet is particularly popular in North America, Europe and Oceania. This must, however, be tender and not be stringy or chewy. To avoid stringiness and chewiness, carcasses should have been matured for a period of time, a process which was traditionally done off-line. Carcasses were kept in chilled storage for a number of hours before being cut up. Marel Poultry offers a process, now widely used, which allows maturation in-line. The process uses a combination of electrical stimulation in the defeathering department and a two stage maturation chiller.
In the first short stage products are chilled rapidly by very cold air circulated at high velocity to inhibit the growth of bacteria. Moisture is applied to all inside and outside surfaces to help chilling and to keep any weight loss to a minimum. In the second much longer stage products are chilled slowly using less cold air at lower velocities. This speeds up the proteolytic breakdown necessary for maturation and a tender breast fillet.
Precise management and control
The air chilling techniques described above allow chilling and maturation to be managed in a way impossible in an immersion chill environment. Water content, color and tenderness can be precisely controlled guaranteeing the consumer a top quality, consistent end product.
No turning the clock back
Many European markets moved from water-chilled deep frozen chicken to air-chilled fresh chicken many years ago. Other markets including Canada, Australia and New Zealand follow the European example. Even in the USA, air-chilled poultry is becoming more popular.
When consumers are offered air-chilled fresh product, they invariably quote the same reasons for preferring it. Chilled fresh chicken can be presented in many attractive ways. What is attractive to the eye is tasty to the palate! Precise labeling showing an exact “use by” date, usually within a few days, indicates that product has been recently processed. Deep frozen chicken could have been produced weeks ago if not longer. In short, consumers feel that they are buying a higher quality product, for which they are prepared to pay extra.
Experience has shown that those markets, which have made the move from off-line water-chilling to in-line air chilling, have no regrets. None would want to turn the clock back!