Image Number 4 for United States Patent #5752431.
A blancher having multiple cooling zones formed by a tank having multiple compartments for receiving a heating liquid in one compartment and a coolant in at least two other compartments. In a preferred embodiment, the tank has a sidewall with an end wall at its inlet end, an end wall at its discharge end, and a pair of dividing baffles which separate the tank into compartments. Received within the tank is a food transport mechanism that preferably is a helical auger having a portion in each compartment to urge food product toward the discharge end. Preferably, a liquid hot enough to cook or blanch food product is received in the inlet end compartment and a liquid cold enough to cool the food product is received in the discharge end compartment. To precool the food product after it has been heated, a precooling liquid preferably is received in a compartment between the inlet end and outlet end compartments. Preferably, water at a temperature of between 55.degree. Fahrenheit and 75.degree. Fahrenheit is received in the precooling compartment and water at a temperature of between 32.degree. Fahrenheit and 55.degree. Fahrenheit is received in the cooling compartment. Preferably, each of the cooling compartments can be constructed having cooling water inlets and outlets that produce a coolant flow opposite the direction of food product flow creating a counterflow heat exchanging arrangement. Preferably, at least some of the coolant supplied to the precooling compartment is well or ground water for saving energy and money.