Parallel-Flow Prune Dehydration
About 20% of California's dried prune crop will be processed through parallel-flow dehydrators this year—a technique developed by University researchers that allows a 50% increase in seasonal capacity of conventional dehydrators, with no important differences in quality of the dried prunes. The new system involves moving the cars of prune dehydration trays through conventional drying tunnels with the hot air flow rather than against it. This operation exposes the moist prunes to the hottest air at the start of the drying process when higher temperatures are desired, rather than when nearly dry as they leave the tunnel. The new technique has also made feasible complete time-clock automation of dehydration tunnels.