Chips and french fries

CHIPS AND FRENCH FRIES

 

Driven largely by the rising popularity of Western style cuisine, particularly the offerings of quick service restaurants (QSRs), frozen french fries and other frozen potato products have become global commodities generating billions of dollars in revenue worldwide each year. The major markets for frozen potato products are still predominantly the developed economies of the United States, the European Union, Canada, and Japan. However, as these markets mature, they are likely to have only limited growth potential in the future. This is most evident in the United States, the oldest and largest single-country market for frozen potato products, where demand seems to have leveled off in recent years.

 

POTATOES CRITERIA FOR FRENCH FRIES PRODUCTION

It is important to state that not all potatoes are suitable for the production of French fries.

Potatoes need to meet specific criteria related to:

  • Size: potatoes need to be large and long oval (oblong)
  • Dry Matter Content: dry matter content of the potatoes needs to be high enough
  • Reducing Sugars: reducing Sugar content needs to be low enough
  • Discolouration:Discolouration after cooking (non-enzymatic) as well as enzymatic discolouration should be as ow as possible
  • Defects and Diseases: within acceptable limits, as it causes waste and defects in the product
  • Variability: maybe not the primary quality criterium, but all variability in the potatoes (within tubers, between tubers, year to year) for any of the mentioned aspects makes the potatoes less suitable

In addition, some suppliers (e.g. McDonald’s) accept only French Fries made from specific potato varieties.

 

FRENCH FRIES PROCESSING

 

The unpeeled potatoes are fed into the abrasive peeling machine via an elevator conveyor. After the abrasive peeling process the product can be inspected on an inspection table. Via another conveyor the product is brought into our stripping/dicing machine, after which it is treated against discolouring.

In the beginning, the potatoes roll along conveyor belts including large grates that shake the smaller potatoes out.

During the selection long oval potatoes are designated for the traditional strip fry shape, while smaller, rounder potatoes are sorted separately and used to make curly fries or cubed fries.

After that, they are steamed and dropped into a steam peeler (all done without smashing the potatoes). Some manufacturers run the cut fries through a conveyor with built in camera and computer that analyzes each fry to identify the ‘sub-standard’ fries and they are removed from the line.

The entire process runs the fries from one machine to another, each with a special purpose. And this process is unique to the manufacturing of frozen french fries.

Frozen food manufacturers require accountability and traceability of products that ensure they will always be stored and transported at the correct temperature, in controlled environments.

 

CHIPS PROCESSING

 

Potato chips are widely consumed, especially by young people, due to their tastefulness. They are delicious fried foods characterized by a salty taste, crispy texture, and fatty mouthfeel.

Peeled potatoes are washed to avoid darkening. Before slicing, large potatoes are chopped because they easily crumble after frying. Slicing is very important for quality of chips and slice thickness should range between 0.7 and 1.8 mm (opt. 1.0–1.2 mm). Sliced potatoes are washed to remove starch, sugars, etc., and protect them against browning reactions. This also ensures the production of crispy and light-colored chips. Blanching of chips before frying by immersing them in water or salt solutions (sodium bisulfite) at 65°C–95°C for about 1 min improves their color. After blanching and before frying, partial drying of slices should occur to avoid excessive oil absorption by the product.

In modern processing plants, potato chips are continuously fried. Owing to evaporation of water during frying, the weight of potato slices decreases, and consequently they float into the oil. Oil temperature ranges, initially, between 175°C and 190°C, and terminally between 160°C and 170°C. Frying time usually ranges between 1.5 and 3 min and depends on the slices flow into the fryer and the potato dry matter content.

After frying, excess oil is removed from chips, and salt or flavorings are added. Then, they are allowed to cool and conveyed for packaging, after burnt or broken chips are removed. Packaging materials (polymeric, laminated films) are shaped into bags, filled with weighed portions of chips, heat sealed, secondary packaged, palletized, and transported to the storage area (Vorria et al., 2004).

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