AmazeBalls: cheesy snack development

Wednesday, 04 December, 2019

AmazeBalls: cheesy snack development

Australian dairy business Ashgrove has developed its AmazeBalls natural cheese snack using a Radiant Energy Vacuum Dehydration (REV) technology.

Ashgrove is a family-owned dairy business located in Elizabeth Town, Tasmania. Several generations of Bennett families have been farming the land surrounding the milk and cheese factory since the 1880s. In 1993, the Ashgrove Cheese factory was built nearby and its first vat of cheese was produced on 29 November 1993.

The company is always striving to innovate its products, especially when it comes to cheese. Given that natural snacking was on trend, in 2017, the company starting using a new processing technology to make its dehydrated cheese snack called AmazeBalls. According to the company, the cheese snack is designed to provide protein and nutrients in an easy-to-eat dairy format.

How is the product processed?

During the product development, Ashgrove evaluated various conventional freeze dryers but decided against this technology as it used too much water. While searching the internet for alternative technology, it came across the Canadian company EnWave, which had developed a Radiant Energy Vacuum Dehydration (REV) technology that could be used to make a clean-label dehydrated cheese snack product.

Enwave pilot plant.

The REV technology is a rapid, low-temperature drying method that is designed to maintain the product’s colour, flavour and nutrients during the drying process. While the technology was new for the Australian market, it proved to be suitable for Ashgrove’s product due the fast processing speeds in conjunction with minimal use of water.

EnWave’s patented vacuum-microwave technology enables uniform drying with flexible moisture content that is claimed to be unattainable with freeze drying or air drying. Ashgrove was keen to be the first to use it in Australia for cheese.

The uniform drying method allows for a range of final moisture percentages and the ability to create shelf-stable products at various moisture percentages. The machines provide scalability with options from research and design, batch production to continuous commercial production.

The nutraREV drum-based machine tumbles the product in rotating drums, moving through the vacuum microwave chamber, as the microwave energy is used to homogeneously dehydrate the product to a desired residual moisture content. It is suitable for the dehydration of organic materials that can be tumbled without breaking, typically discrete pieces of food. Many fruits, vegetables, meat products, dairy products, spices, herbs and grains are suitable for the process.

The Ashgrove Tasmanian Farm Amaze Balls are available in a variety of flavours, including Havarti, Tasty Cheddar and even Salted Caramel, across Australia.

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