Food Technology

In the Research area Food Technology, the Laimburg Research Centre has applied its long-standing recipe for success in working with the South Tyrolean agriculture to yet another area of expertise: the regional food sector. It is our aim to support food manufacturers with the help of research and development and by fostering a culture of innovation. All our research and innovation projects are subject to a close-knit cooperation with the South Tyrolean food industry and other research institutions.

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The goal of the Group Storage and Postharvest Biology is to preserve the freshness of newly harvested fruit and vegetables for the longest possible period to ensure that consumers can benefit from high-quality fruit for longer. An additional benefit of this effort is more flexibility in reacting to seasonal market demands.

The quality and freshness of harvested fruit is maintained with the help of storage methods that are both environmentally sound and consumer-friendly.

  • determination of the ideal degree of ripeness for long-term storage, customised to the requirements of each individual variety
  • assessment of fruit quality and development of innovative storage methods
  • analysis of the effect of cultivation methods on fruit preservation properties
  • prevention of losses during storage caused by pathogenic agents, metabolic disorders or cultivation-related nutritional deficiencies
  • evaluation and optimisation of storage methods for both established and new varieties
  • consultation services for fruit co-operatives and associations in South Tyrol
  • knowledge transfer

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This group is concerned with the processing of local varieties of fruits and vegetables. In doing so, it focuses on the development of innovative products and optimizing processing techniques. It supports local producers with its food technology know-how in order to optimize the quality of traditional products and support the development of new ones. In doing so, the experts make use of pilot plants for homogenization (including the use of high pressure), drying at low temperatures, controlled instant decompression, and the production of juices and purees. Furthermore, the physico-chemical and microbiological stability of foods is analyzed and the thermo-physical and mechanical properties of individual ingredients and finished products are studied.

 

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The Laboratory for Fermentation and Distillation studies fermentation processes aimed at refining food products as well as distillates, fruit brandy and liqueurs. In our research, we analyse and apply food technology solutions to process primary products, we develop and improve processing records used in the production of fermented beverages of the fruit-based (cider), grain-based (beer) and honey-based kind (mead).

Another key aim is the analysis of distillation processes with special emphasis on optimising the separation of heads and tails and the evaluation of aroma yielded during distillation. The laboratory also conducts studies on how to increase the added value of food and a number of tests to formulate new fermentation products and distillates.

Our equipment includes:

  • an automated malting system
  • an automated micro-brewing system
  • a distillation plant
  • an automated system to produce sparkling wine

 

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The "Sensory Science" group characterizes foods using sensory analyses and instruments and determines consumer preferences. To determine the quality characteristics of a food as precisely as possible and to describe them comprehensively and objectively, the findings of sensory analyses conducted by a trained panel of tasters (appearance, aroma, taste, mouth feel), physico-chemical analyses, and consumer test results are combined. The lab focuses on the characterization of sensory quality and the shelf-life of products; additionally, it investigates the effects of innovative food processing techniques on the resultant sensory characteristics of the products. Sensory Science also has a key role in product development, in the quality control of foods, and in market research.
This lab is located at Laimburg Research Centre, in the new "Stadlhof" Building.

References

Our research projects:

  • Sensory evaluation of the most promising South Tyrolean apple varieties (including red pulp)
  • Italian Taste - studying Italian food preferences and their individual variability in relation to physiological and psychological indexes (in collaboration with the Italian Society of Sensory Science)
  • Training of a tasting panel for the evaluation of apple juices

Cooperation partners

 

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Contatto (ad interim)