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< prev - next > Food processing Dairy KnO 100326_Yoghurt incubator (Printable PDF)
Yoghurt manufacturing is a popular small-scale food processing endeavour. Yoghurt is relatively
simple to produce, can be done with a small amount of capital and there is a good demand for it
in the market. According to the technical inquiries received by the Cathy Rich Memorial Food
Processing Training Centre, 20% of the requests from small-scale entrepreneurs are for
information on making yoghurt. The most important feature and function of this process is the
incubation of the mixture since it acquires the needed flavour as this stage.
There are no small-scale industrial yoghurt incubators produced in the local market. The yoghurt
incubators used by large businesses are too expensive and have a much larger capacity than is
necessary for small-scale food processors (SSFP). Plus SSFPs do not have the capital or the
space to accommodate an industrial sized incubator.
The SSFPs use makeshift incubators: rigifoam or wooden boxes, where the heat cannot be
regulated or maintained, and do not produce good quality yoghurt. These makeshift models
could only accommodate 250 cups per batch. They are also difficult to clean and are
unhygienic. Therefore the SSFPs could not sell their produce and could not compete with the
large scale producers.
Practical Action South Asia (then called ITDG) along with the Cathy Rich Memorial Food
Processing Centre responded to a request by SSFPs to design an appropriate incubator. It has
improved the standard of the yoghurt produced, it is low in cost, has a greater capacity and easy
to operate and maintain.
The incubators
The yoghurt incubators developed had slight modifications to the industrial incubator. Practical
Action South Asia designed two models: one which is manual and one that is semi automatic:
The basic structure is the same with the difference being the thermostat unit.
The incubators introduced by Practical Action South Asia aluminium frames with rigifoam
insulation. The rigifoam insulation is for heat retention which increases the efficiency and
reduces the electricity consumption.
The incubator has two chambers with 6 removable shelves in each chamber.
Bulbs are installed at the base of the incubator to supply the required heat.
The incubator has a glass front so that it can be judged visually when the yoghurt has matured
and ready to be taken out. In the manual model, the heat source (the bulbs) have to be turned on
and off as required and the incubator temperature needs to be monitored.
In the semi-automatic version, the thermostat turns off when the required temperature is reached
and does not need to be monitored.
The incubator could have an internal fan which helps regulate the heat (by 4-5 degrees) but
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