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This content is taken from the EIT Food, DIL & European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)'s online course, How Food is Made. Understanding Food Processing Technologies. Join the course to learn more.

Summary of food processing techniques

This Week we learned about traditional processing technologies. Food processing has many advantages but it also brings its disadvantages. More specifically we learned about the following food processing techniques.


This process aims to decrease the particle size of products, especially emulsions or two-phase systems where, for example, fat particles are dispersed in a water phase such as milk, mayonnaise and ice cream mix before freezing. By decreasing the particle size the stability of the product over its shelf life is increased.

A homogeniser in the Pilot Plant with Afroditi explaining how it works


This process is a heat treatment where the time-temperature combination results in the inactivation of (vegetative) pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms and leads to an increased shelf life for the product. It is used for milk, juices and many other products.

A pasteuriser in the Pilot Plant with apple juice being delivered to a jug


This process is composed of many sub-processes aiming to increase the shelf life of a product and make it storeable at room temperature. Microorganisms, their vegetative form and spores, are inactivated by an intense heat treatment called sterilisation after the food has been placed in a pre-prepared and sealed can.

A canning retort in the pilot plant


Drying aims to decrease the water content of a product and therefore inhibits microbial growth by creating an uninhabitable environment with a low water activity. Many different approaches for drying exist including hot air drying, freeze drying, etc. Products include dried fruits and vegetables, grains, etc.

dried apple slices

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay


This process has been used for centuries, especially in the meat but also fish industry. The initial aim was to prolong shelf life, however these days the main reason is the special flavour and aroma which is developed during smoking.

sausages hanging on a metal rack in a smokery

Image by sebastirut from Pixabay

During the next Week you will learn about innovations in the food industry and why we need it. What does PEF, HPP or irradiation mean? Can packaging make a difference to the preservation of food? Stay tuned to learn about all this.

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This article is from the free online course:

How Food is Made. Understanding Food Processing Technologies

EIT Food