Oven airflow plays a crucial role in producing a better, more consistent cooked product.
The breakpoint air stream, formed where the high- and low-velocity airflows collide, is ultimately what cooks your product — replacing the cold area around your product with the hot air that will cook it.
It goes without saying, then, that the oven airflow has the ability to either over-cook or under-cook your product, depending where it’s located on your smokehouse truck. The closer your product is to the breakpoint, the more it gets cooked — producing a darker color, greater yield loss, and making your product drier.
The reverse is also true: the further from the breakpoint, the longer your product takes to cook — producing a lighter color, less yield loss, and not drying your product as much. The longer cook time is what causes the product closer to the breakpoint to over-cook.
We explained the science behind all this in our crash course on the oven breakpoint.
So what causes an oven to produce a better cooked product? The ability to direct the oven airflow exactly where you want it. Here are just three ways the ability to direct the oven airflow affects your product:
Increased Product Consistency
As mentioned above, the breakpoint air stream is what ultimately cooks your product, meaning the distance your product is from the breakpoint affects how it will be cooked.
The closer your product is to the breakpoint, the darker and drier it will become. The further your product is from the breakpoint, you’ll notice less yield loss and a lighter color.
The more you can direct that airflow to different zones on the smokehouse truck, the less difference you’ll see in your product for one main reason: all product on your truck will be close to the breakpoint.
Imagine if every piece of product on your smokehouse truck received a similar amount of airflow — it would take less time to get every piece of product up to required cooking temperature resulting in less product closer to the breakpoint being over cooked while waiting for the product further from the breakpoint to get up to temperature.
The results? Less per-piece yield loss, less product coloring variations, less variation in product dryness.
Controlling the oven airflow to evenly cook every zone on your smokehouse truck, the more consistent your product will be.
Increase Product Yield
Product yield in an industrial oven is typically measured by weighing the truck before and after cooking, giving you an overall truck yield. While this method gives you a yield number, it doesn’t give you a clear picture of what’s really happening to your product.
In a typical industrial oven where the breakpoint can’t be directed to specific zones, the product yield varies depending on the location of the product on the smokehouse truck.
For example: Let’s say you have a yield loss of 8 percent using the method above. It’s seems decent. But what you don’t see is that the product at the bottom of your truck (closest to the breakpoint) might have a yield loss of 11 percent while product at the upper-middle of your truck (further from the breakpoint) might have 5 percent yield loss. Those numbers are much more telling of product inconsistency in your oven.
Now, take that same truck full of product and put it in an oven where you can control the oven airflow and direct the breakpoint to hit at various zones on the truck, and your product yields will improve.
Rather than experiencing a 5 percent yield loss at the upper-middle of your truck and an 11 percent yield loss at the bottom of your truck, your product throughout the truck (whether top, middle, or bottom) will produce the same yield — typically a 1-6 percent improvement over your yield loss average.
Increase Truck Capacity
Directing the oven airflow to various zones on the smokehouse truck has another benefit: you are able to fit more product on the same truck.
Think about it: if every zone on your smokehouse truck receives the same amount of the breakpoint air stream that cooks your product, you’ll be able to get more product on the tray without blocking the airflow.
No more breakpoint airflow only at the bottom or top of the truck, causing it to weaken as it gets to product in the middle of the truck. A stronger breakpoint air stream will hit every piece of product no matter its location on the truck. This means you don’t have to space product in the middle of your truck further apart just to get airflow to hit it.
When every zone of your smokehouse truck gets the same amount of airflow, you are able to fit more product on the truck — upwards of 30 percent more.
More product cooking on the same truck for less time — it will save you both time and money in your processing operation.