Potato chips Manufacturing Process, main equipment suppliers and learnings
Do you know that the fried potato chips have up to 35% oil in it? Is the crispiness and taste of the chips worth the carbs and the processed fats that we ingest? Well, potato chips constitute 30 to 40% of salty snack food consumption, although hardly anyone thinks potato chips are nutritious. Making these great tasting chips is not an easy job and it is a mix of science and a bit of an art and many decades of experience at play here. Good quality potatoes with high solids and low sugar content are the key ingredient. The potatoes need to be peeled correctly, sized properly, sliced at the correct thickness, fried with just the right amount of good quality oil at the right temperature, for a constant time in the fryer to make a crisp chip. On a continuous potato chips processing lines, these tasks are performed at various stations reliably and I have worked on these production lines that can produce up to 2300 kgs of potato chips / hour. I will try and put some information below that can be helpful for people wanting to know more about potato chips manufacturing. Below are the main steps involved in potato chips manufacturing lines Potatoes preparation, feeding the potatoes to the processing line: Good quality potatoes for processing have low sugar content and high solids. It could be surprising for some to know that up to 88% of potatoes can be water, and the solid content in various potato types varies from 12% to 25%. Processing yield is directly proportional to the solid content in potato and quality of the potato chips production is inversely proportional to the amount of sugar in potatoes. Potato chips are usually made from farm-fresh potatoes delivered daily to manufacturing plants. The sources vary from season to season. When fresh potatoes are not available, stored potatoes are used, potatoes are usually stored at a constant temperature 7-8 °C, until several weeks before they are to be used. They are then moved to a reconditioning room that is at about 22-24°C. Size and type are important in potato selection. When the potatoes arrive at the plant, they are examined and tasted for quality. Random samples are taken and some of the potatoes are punched with holes in their cores, so that they can be tracked through the cooking process. The potatoes are examined for green edges and blemishes. The pile of defective potatoes is weighed; if the weight exceeds a company's pre-set allowance, the entire truckload can be rejected. The potatoes move along a conveyer belt to the various stages of manufacturing. Crate Dumper / Bin Tipper: Crate Dumper is the first equipment at the start of the potato chips processing line. Forklift operator puts potato crates on Crate Dumper and the purpose of the crate dumper is to safely tilt crates of potatoes into a metering hopper. The functional requirement of this equipment is to provide a consistent flow of product to the processing line. Major manufacturers of Crate Dumpers for potato chips processing lines are Vanmark and Heat & Control. Destoning and Peeling: The potatoes are loaded into a vertical helical screw conveyer / hydro lift which rinses and removes debris and rocks from product and allow stones to fall to the bottom. The constant-speed vertical auger creates water turbulence that separates rock and debris from the product, washes loose dirt and pushes the potatoes up to the infeed of automatic peeling machine. Separated dirt and debris settles at the bottom of the tank where it is either removed manually or pushed out with the water flow automatically. On potato chips processing lines, the potato peeling is usually done by abrasive methods. Peeling equipment is designed to not only provide high quality, effective peeling, it washes product as well. The continuous peelers have rollers that are constructed in a drum in which a screw transport the product to the discharge opening. The drum construction has the advantage that the product is running with a variable speed. An internal auger controls dwell time and advances product for complete peel removal and maximum yield. The waste can be discharged underneath the machine with or without water. The abrasive surface of the continuous peelers is usually of silicon carbide material, although brush rollers can also be used with abrasive rollers depending upon the skin and quality of the peeled product. Fresh potatoes can usually be peeled easily w.r.t stored potatoes. Companies like Vanmark, Heat & Control, TNA/Florigo, Sormac, FMT(Food Machinery Technologies) make these hydrolifts/ destoners and continuous and batch peelers. Slicer Potato slicer operates using centrifugal force of a rotating impeller within a fixed cutting head. The potatoes pass through a revolving impeller that slices them into paper-thin slices, between 0.066-0.072 in (1.7-1.85 mm) in thickness. Straight blades produce regular chips while rippled blades produce ridged/ rippled potato chips. The high speed of the knives combined with the unique cutting method produces uniform slices with a smooth surface and a minimum of breakage and ragged ends. The slices fall into a second cold-water wash that removes the starch released when the potatoes are cut. Soaking of raw potato slices prior to frying is done to minimize browning and improve colour quality of chips by lowering precursors of non-enzymatic browning reactions. Urschel and Fam Volantis are the main manufactrers of slicers. Hot Water Blanching Blanching process is a method that is usually carried out for 20s to 15 min under the temperature between 80 – 100 ℃. The duration of blanching is dependent upon potato quality, age, production line capacity and the process requirements. Water is usually heated with steam. Blanching helps destroy about 13 enzymes in the potato tissues that lead to enzymatic browning and degrade quality of potato products. Blanching generates lighter and less red fried chips than those unblanched potatoes due to reduction of sugar with the blanching water The blanching machine consists of heating section, cooling section, discharge conveyor, automatic temperature control device, etc. The blanched slices pass under air jets and air washer that remove excess water as they travel towards Fryer infeed conveyor. The pre-drying process before frying is commonly used in the food industry due to its advantages like uniform colour and much less fat easily obtained after the frying. Heat and Control, FMT(Food Machinery Technologies) and TNA manufacture Blanching Machines Frying & Heat Exchanger Potato chips are produced by deep-fat frying, a process method to cook and dehydrate food that immersed in heated oil at 165-190ºC. The oil used is corn oil, cottonseed oil, or a blend of vegetable oils. An antioxidizing agent can be added to the oil to prevent rancidity. To further ensure purification, the oil is passed through a filtration system daily. In case of continuous fryer, the oil is circulated continuously via heat exchanger and heated via convection heat within the heat exchanger. In the case of potato chips, colour and texture are extremely important criterion that is strictly related to consumer perception and is to be controlled during potato selection, processing and frying. Temperature of frying is a crucial variable to influence the chips colour because potato chips are fried at an elevated temperature that rapidly proceeds the Maillard reaction (browning of potato chips) that is highly dependent on frying temperature and sugar content in the potatoes. Frying time is another crucial parameter to be monitored that impacts crispiness, colour, and quality of the chips. It is usually 3-5 minutes on continuous process lines. Vacuum frying is an efficient alternative method for the traditional deep fry process of potato chips. Under vacuum, the frying process is carried out at lower pressures below atmospheric levels, leading to lower boiling points of the frying oil and the moisture in the potatoes. In this case, required oil temperature for the chips and oxygen content are decreased, yielding fried chips with more natural colour and flavour preservation together with less oil absorption Ensuring that the moisture content in the processed chips is less than 2%, and OV (Oxidation value) and FFA (free fatty acids) of the oil remain within the prescribed limits during chips frying are some of the important quality metrics during frying. Having a good quality heat exchanger and centrifugal pump for circulating the oil ensures indirect heating as per the requirement and chips quality and quantity deliverables can be successfully met. Heat and Control, FMT(Food Machinery Technologies) and TNA manufacture Fryers and Heat Exchangers. Cooling and sorting At the end of the potato chips frying process, a wire mesh belt pulls out the hot chips. As the chips move along the mesh conveyer belt, excess oil is drained off and the chips begin to cool. They then move under an optical sorter that picks out any burnt slices, defected chips and removes them with puffs of air. There are multiple cameras on the line that take photos of individual chips on the vibratory conveyors and hundreds of solenoids and air nozzles that remove defected chips. An advanced image processing and comparison program compares the chips quality with the reference images set by the operator and chips that are not meeting those quality deliverables are rejected at this station. Key Technologies, Tomra and Protec manufacture Chips sorting machines. Seasoning / Flavour application: Potato chips that are to be flavoured pass through a drum filled with the desired powdered seasonings. The customer expectation is met by applying exactly the right amount of flavour on the chips. This is achieved by Seasoning tumblers where sometimes dry seasoning is applied accurately by the auger that is accurately controlled by stepper or servo motors. Sometimes oil is also mixed in the seasoning tumblers to get the required flavour application. The functional requirements of seasoning applicator systems is to deliver continuous and consistent seasoning application. Easy cleaning and smooth integration with upstream and downstream equipment is also pretty important. Heat and Control and TNA manufacture Seasoning Applicators After Seasoning Applicators the product is usually transferred to the packaging section where Multi-head Weighers, VFFS machines, inspection equipment, case packers, Palletisers etc. are used to automatically pack the product and send it to the market. If you want to learn the potato chips production process in detail or want to take our feedback or recommendation regarding various suppliers, equipment then please feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to help. Learn about VFFS Packaging Machines Learn about Multi-Head Weighers Learn about Case Packers
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