Most facilities package the finished tomato paste using aseptic bags, so that the product in the evaporator never comes into contact with air until it reaches the customer. The concentrate is sent from the evaporator directly to an aseptic tank – it is then pumped at high pressure through the aseptic sterilizer-cooler (also called a flash cooler) to the aseptic filler, where it is filled into large, pre-sterilized aseptic bags. Once packaged, the concentrate can be kept up to 24 months.
Some facilities choose to package their finished product under non-aseptic conditions. This paste must go through an additional step after packaging – it is heated to pasteurize the paste, and then kept under observation for 14 days before being released to the customer.
The process of creating tomato paste is energy and capital intensive. So next time you reach for that bottle of ketchup or that slice of pizza, you now know a little more about how it got to the dining table!
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