Canning fresh products is an efficient and safe method to enjoy certain seasonal products, which can't be stored any other way because they are perishable. To discover the advantages of preserves, let's find out more about their elaboration through the Spanish canning factory Pedro Luis, from Lodosa, which processes peppers, asparagus and artichokes with Protected Geographical Indication or Denomination of Origin.
Calibrating, cutting, and blanching
Within 48 hours after collection, the vegetables are calibrated and separated by categories. The asparagus is peeled, taking advantage of 50% of the product, and cut to the measure of the cans; the rest is resold to the frozen industry. The artichokes are defoliated to take advantage of their central bud; only 20 to 28% of each kilo of artichoke is used, and the discarded part is given to farmers as animal feed.
Once peeled and calibrated, they are cooked and washed. Once their cold, the products undergo through a visual inspection and are introduced into the cans or final containers.
Sterilization with an autoclave
The vegetables marketed by Pedro Luis only carry water with salt with 2% ascorbic acid (vitamin C), a substance that is added in part to avoid the product from darkening, but above all to eliminate the presence of pathogens. Ascorbic acid is a disinfectant, but in excess it gives the preserves a sour flavor, which is why the sterilization of preserves is achieved with an autoclave in this factory. It is an airtight container made to withstand high pressures and high temperatures, in which the cans and containers are introduced and subjected to temperatures of 188º for 35 minutes.
After their sterilization, preserves go through an X-ray machine, which is used to make sure that no foreign bodies, such as pieces of metal or stones, are left in them.
After this process, they are ready for commercialization.
A highly competitive sector
50% of the preserves that Pedro Luis produces have ecological certification, but this only affects the agricultural product, not the manufacturing process, which is the same for all vegetables.
The company opted for the ecological certification, as well as the appellations of origin, in 1994 to create a distinctive hallmark of their products. Quality is the only thing that can save the sector from foreign competition.
"We thought that the industry here would disappear with the first imports from China and Peru, but if you defend the quality of the products, their safety, and traceability, things work out," concluded the businessman.