The açaí factory
Our açaí does not come from plantations but is harvested from the wild by ribeirinhos. These are indigenous people living on the riverbanks of the Amazon region. Before açaí berries turn up in your açaí bowl, the berry has to undergo several phases at the açaí factory. Each açaí factory follows roughly the same processes for turning the açaí berries into frozen açaí pulp. The end result, however, in both taste profile and quality can be very different.
The different processes at each açaí factory:
- Reception of the fresh harvested açaí berries at the açaí factory to weigh and register origin. Because the berries spoils very fast it is essential that the berries arrive not later than 24 hours at the açaí factory from the moment the berries are harvested.
- Sanitation, first selection and softening. Biological contaminants such as bacteria, viruses and fungi are present in air, water and soil. Because these organisms can affect human health it is important to disinfect the wild harvested açaí berries.
- Depulping of the açaí berries at the açaí factory. Depulping happens by means of friction between the berries (the edible layer of the açaí is only 1 to 2 mm thick). The purity of the frozen açaí pulp is determined here. The more water is used in this process, the less pure will be the açaí pulp. This number is expressed in the dry rate of açaí. Export quality of frozen açaí pulp should have at least a dry rate of 12%.
- Filtration. After depulping the açaí berries, the paste is filtered with sieves to remove any remaining material as a consequence of the depulping.
- Homogenization. This is a physical process and not chemical.
- Pasteurization of the açaí. For food safety we pasteurize our açaí. This is a heating process that kills so called pathogens. Pasteurization is a very delicate process as it interferes both with the color of the açaí and the taste itself. Depending on whether açaí pulp is pasteurized or not the expiry date of the açaí is 12 months or 24 months (with pasteurization).
- Packaging. The açaí pulp has now reached its final processing and is ready for consumption. The packaging machine at the açaí factory is directly connected to the homogenization / pasteurization equipment and is done fully automatically.
- Freezing of the açaí pulp. It is essential that the pulp is frozen as fast as possible to avoid contamination and / or deterioration of the product. We do so by putting the acai after packaging immediately into a so called freezing tunnel. The temperature in this tunnel is around minus 30 degrees Celsius. After the açaí is frozen it is moved to a storage room with a temperature of minus 18 degrees Celsius.