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Rice-Based Snack Foods



topics are covered in this chapter: rice milling and an introduction to rice-based snack foods. Most rice snacks in Taiwan are made from either normal indica or waxy japonica rice. Rice growing has had a direct impact on Taiwanese and southern Chinese culture. As an integral part of their history, rice can be traced back to 4000 BC when the Seed in the spring, plow in the summer, harvest in the fall and store in the winter proverb originated. In Taiwan, 90% of all rice is consumed as cooked whole kernels. The rest is milled to produce our, which is used to make cakes, desserts and snacks, primarily for special feasts or celebrations [1]. In the United States, rice is usually classied by length of grain: short, medium and long. In Taiwan, indica rice refers to long grains, while japonica refers to short grains. The United States produces mostly long-grain and intermediategrain rice in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Missouri. California produces medium or short-grain rice. Taiwan produces mostly japonica rice with only 10% indica, waxy indica, or waxy japonica varieties. Physical properties of major rice varieties grown in Taiwan are shown in Table 16.1.

Rough or paddy rice is shelled usually using rubber rolls and aspiration to remove the hulls. The brown rice is then milled using abrasive mills (pearlers) to remove the bran. The milled (polished) rice consists of whole intact starchy

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TABLE 16.1.

Physical Properties of Milled Indica, Japonica and Waxy Rice Varieties Grown in Taiwan [2].
1,000 Kernel Kernel Length Kernel Width Shape Weight (g) (mm) (mm) (Length/Width)
22.57 24.48 22.68 21.86 30.28 23.36 22.76 22.47 22.65 21.60 20.99 23.64 22.32 21.12 6.64 5.85 6.42 5.35 6.21 4.75 5.02 4.69 4.76 4.64 4.93 6.24 4.44 4.40 2.22 2.64 2.40 2.67 2.87 2.99 2.86 2.83 2.86 2.90 2.88 2.46 2.94 3.03 2.99 2.22 2.69 2.01 2.16 1.59 1.76 1.66 1.66 1.60 1.71 2.54 1.51 1.45

Rice Varieties
Indica TNuS 19 KSS 7 TCS 10 TCN 1 TCS 17 Japonica TK 8 TK 9 TK 5 KS 142 TNa 9 TC 189 Waxy TCSW 1 TKW 1 TCW 70

endosperm (grains) and broken pieces. The milled rice is a light, white color consisting mainly of starch and protein with low-fat, ash and crude ber content. Then the milled rice is further processed by grinding to produce rice our and meal depending on the products desired. Rice is milled (ground to our or to a coarse meal) in some Asian countries as part of the process for making traditional baked or steamed products [36]. Rice our is used in processed foods, which include cereals, soup, snacks, candy and others. Rice our consumption in 1990/1991 was 12.2 million cwt, which was over 21% of the total domestic demand for milled rice [7]. Ofcial Taiwan market statistics indicate that approximately 0.9 million cwt of rice our are consumed annually in desserts and snacks. Approximately 30% of total rice our production is used in making noodles (bi-tai-ba) which are used in main dishes. One thousand years of milling experience has produced three milling processes: dry, semidry and wet milling. These processes make different types of ours depending on the amount of water used (Figure 16.1). Functional properties of ours are directly related to the amylose content of their starches [5,6]. Rice starch has more physicochemical interactions than other cereal starches. The amylose content, which ranges from trace amounts in waxy types to more than 30% in some non-waxy indica varieties, signicantly affects the use of our as thickeners and breadings. Because of their higher

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Figure 16.1 Flow chart for production of dry-milled, semidry-milled, wet-milled and parched rice ours.

amylose content (>27%), some indica varieties cause products to thicken and form a rigid gel during storage. Manufacturers of rice noodles and rice cakes prefer high-amylose indica varieties such as Taichung Sen 19 and Taichung Sen 17 [810]. Flours milled from medium or short-grain japonica (low amylose) rice are preferred for puffed rice cakes and rice crackers (arare, sen bei), which are popular snacks in Japan. The branched chains of amylopectin produce desirable, lighter, expanded texture in products. Waxy japonica rice has a stickier characteristic than waxy indica varieties. A viscoamylograph, Rapid ViscosityTM Analyzer (RVA), and/or a differential scanning calorimeter, are used to determine the cooking and pasting properties of rice. These measurements are used to select rice for production of specic rice ours [11]. Storage time and conditions, milling methods and pretreatment of rice kernels signicantly affect the physicochemical and functional properties

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TABLE 16.2.

Composition and Damaged Starch Content of Flours from Taiwanese Indica, Japonica, and Waxy Rice Varieties.a
Protein (%)
6.16 6.40 7.16 7.61 6.47 6.68 6.67 6.64 7.10 6.30 7.47 7.77 7.08 7.02

Rice Varieties
Indica TNuS 19 KSS 7 TCS 10 TCN 1 TCS 17 Japonica TK 8 TK 9 TK 5 KS 142 TNa 9 TC 189 Waxy TCSW 1 TKW 1 TCW 70

Ash (%)
0.38 0.56 0.53 0.59 0.51 0.59 0.47 0.44 0.49 0.61 0.54 0.38 0.61 0.52

Lipid (%)
0.38 0.71 0.37 0.77 0.45 0.95 0.64 0.69 0.70 1.14 0.62 0.72 1.39 0.91

Damaged Starch (%)

7.80 4.86 8.78 5.98 4.83 7.79 8.66 9.19 8.89 7.51 8.89 8.40 7.69 8.07

Means of three replicates on oven-dry weight basis.

of rice our [1217]. Additional quality control tests, such as protein, ash, fat and microbial counts, are used to ensure the our is an acceptable ingredient in processed foods (Table 16.2).



In dry or semidry milling, the type of mill or grinder signicantly affects the functional properties of the our. Milling with hammer mills results in ours with ne particles; milling with attrition grinders produces coarse particles. Genetics and environment affect the kernel hardness of rice varieties, which produce different particle sizes upon processing (Table 16.3). Scanning electron microscopic (SEM) examination of the ours shows that starch granules individually separate or aggregate during dry and semidry milling, respectively (Figure 16.2). The ours also differ in chemical composition and in thermal properties after grinding (Table 16.4). Differential scanning calorimetry shows relatively similar gelatinization temperature and enthalpy values for the two rice varieties when compared within each milling process. Lower enthalpy values for some processes indicate relatively high starch damage [15,16].

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TABLE 16.3.

Hardness Index, and Particle-Size Distribution of Fourteen Indica, Japonica and Waxy Rice Varieties and Their Milled Flours [18].
Percent on CNS Screenc Rtb 60
81.3 63.9 82.4 71.9 63.4 80.3 81.1 86.1 86.3 74.7 84.1 82.51 79.48 80.14 7.1 12.4 10.4 5.6 5.6 7.1 3.1 2.0 2.0 1.0 0.3 0.3 12.2 7.4 6.8 6.2 16.8 7.2 5.2 7.2 4.1 5.3 6.4 4.9 1.7 3.1 2.0 1.7 1.9 2.8 0.4 0.7 0.6 0.4 0.1 0.8 0.2 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.7 0.2 0.1 7.3 7.5 7.0 7.0 7.5 7.3 7.4 7.3 7.4 7.0 16.8 7.7 16.6 19.2 3.1 8.9 3.7 7.9 8.5 3.2 6.3 3.3 2.6 5.4 2.4 2.6 1.8 0.4 2.2 3.0 1.6 1.1 0.6 1.3 7.3 8.7 7.4 7.8 8.6

Rice Varieties 100 150 200 250 PSId

17.5 31.0 17.1 24.0 24.4 21.9 13.8 10.9 12.5 35.7 14.7 25.3 25.3 31.4 136.0 101.5 111.7 103.5 132.3 141.7 159.2 68.3 158.3 142.2 37.2 152.8 67.5 40.5


Through 250

Milling Temperature C
43.2 36.3 43.4 37.9 36.8 38.6 42.1 44.3 46.6 37.5 45.7 41.7 40.8 43.7

Indica TNuS 19 KSS 7 TCS 10 TCN 1 TCS 17

Japonica TK 8 TK 9 TK 5 KS 142 TNa 9 TC 189

Waxy TCSW 1 TKW 1 TCW 70

BMHT: Brabender micro--hardness test. Rt: Resistance time. c Chinese national standard sieves. d Particle size index according to Williams and Sobering [19].

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Figure 16.2 SEM micrographs of TCSW1 rice ours: (A) dry turbo-milled; (B) dry cyclone-milled; (C) dry hammer-milled; (D) semidry ground; (E) semidry hammer-milled; (F) wet stone-milled.


The rice kernels are steeped for several hours before stone grinding the wet slurries into ours with desired textures. The type of abrasive mill, the ratio of our to water and speed of the mill affect the functional properties of wet-milled our [9]. Flours made by wet milling are highly desirable for most snack foods [2,9]. Optimum steeping is 6 hours at room temperature and more than 10 hours when the temperature is near 10 C (50 F) [20]. Semidry milling is an alternative way

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TABLE 16.4. Effects of Milling Methods on Chemical Composition (Dry-Matter Basis) and Pasting Behaviors of TCSW 1 and TCW 70 Waxy Rice Flours.

Milling Methods Dry Milling Rice Varieties

TCSW 1 Protein, % dmb Ash, % dmb Fat, % dmb Thermal Analysis T0 Tp H TCW 70 Proximate Analysis Protein, % dmb Ash, % dmb Lipid,% dmb Thermal Analysis T0 Tp H

Semi-dry Milling Attrition Hammer

7.5 0.3 0.8 63.3 72.7 4.1 7.2 0.3 0.7 62.1 74.0 11.6

Wet Milling Stone

4.9 0.2 0.3 59.3 71.9 12.7

Turbo Cyclone Hammer

7.9 0.6 2.5 62.1 72.6 10.4 7.9 0.7 2.0 62.1 74.4 10.5 8.0 0.6 1.9 64.2 74.6 11.9

7.0 0.9 2.2 59.8 71.2 11.1

6.9 0.8 2.0 61.1 72.6 10.3

6.9 0.8 1.5 62.1 72.9 12.4

6.3 0.5 1.2 60.1 73.3 4.8

6.29 0.5 1.2 58.8 71.7 12.8

5.47 0.4 0.6 58.2 69.6 13.1

of producing our; it decreases the costs of removing excess water and reduces pollution problems [2,16].

Chinese rice snacks are emphasized in this chapter. The reader is referred to Chapter 17 for rice crackers and products like senbei and arare, which are major traditional baked snack foods of Japan. Several factors discourage industrial production of rice snacks. First, snack foods in Taiwan are made by secret traditional methods. Also, government controls on pricing and distribution of rice limit new developments in processing rice ingredients for new products. Snack foods are classied into: (1) products that use whole rice grains, such as puffed rice items; and (2) products that use ours prepared before and after cooking of broken or whole milled kernels.


Puffed rice snack products are commonly used in Taiwan. The rice kernel is expanded several fold by high pressure or by frying [21,22].

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Figure 16.3 Process for making gun-puffed rice: (A) pufng gun; (B) rice pufng; (C) boiling syrup; (D) mixing rice and syrup; (E) pressing; (F) cutting; (G) products.

4.1.1. Gun-Puffed Rice

Gun-puffed rice products are typical Chinese rice snacks. For best results, japonica varieties with low (<20%) amylose content are chosen for gun pufng [20]. Waxy-type rice has a higher water absorption index and water solubility values, resulting in soggy texture and poor eating properties. The gun (pressure cooker) is preheated for several minutes before it is loaded with 600 g rice tempered to 14% moisture content. After a short cooking time, when the pressure has reached 1012 kg/cm2 , the gun is suddenly opened and the puffed rice kernels are collected in a metal hopper (Figure 16.3). The puffed rice is mixed with sugar or maltose syrup, and occasionally with peanuts and avorings, rolled and cut into small square pieces called gun-puffed cake.

4.1.2. Pufng Rice by Frying (Guo-Ba)

The rice is cooked rst using one of two cooking methods: traditional, where the rice is soaked in water for 30 min and boiled or steamed to obtain wholegrain cooked rice; or large-scale production, where an equal amount of water is added to the milled rice, which is soaked at room temperature for two hours and then steamed at 18 psi pressure for 10 min. Indica waxy rice varieties are preferred; the water-rice ratio is controlled to prevent the cooked rice from

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Figure 16.4 Guo-ba, puffed rice produced by deep-fat frying cooked, dried rice: (A) soaking; (B) molding/forming; (C) steaming; (D) frying; (E) resulting expansion; (F) nished product.

becoming too soft and sticky. Heating is controlled to ensure gelatinization of the rice grain to the core without scorching [16]. The cooked rice is compacted, cut into 5 cm square pieces (10 grams each), dried to 1215% moisture and fried in oil at 220 C (428 F) for 48 seconds in a deep fryer equipped with a conveyor. Then, the puffed rice is packaged (Figure 16.4). Another product puffed by frying is mi-hua-tung. Milled or broken rice is washed, soaked in water and passed through a steaming and drying oven. The cooked rice is dried to 57% moisture using a rotating drum dryer, then fried at 240250 C (464482 F) for 1012 seconds, where pufng occurs [21]. The puffed rice kernel is mixed with syrup and other ingredients, placed in a mold, pressed and packaged.


Mochi is a popular rice cake made in Southeast Asia including Taiwan. It is prepared from milled japonica (short-grain) waxy rice by washing, soaking, wet milling into our, steaming at 100 C (212 F) for 4560 min, kneading, cooling, dividing and packaging (Figure 16.5). Traditionally, the dough was

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Figure 16.5 Processing glutinous (waxy) rice starch into mochi: (A) waxy rice starch; (B) steaming; (C) mixing with syrup; (D) addition of llings; (E) dividing; (F) nal product.

pounded using wooden pestles in mortars to remove air from the dough and obtain rice cakes with a smooth texture. With modern mechanical kneading, air bubbles are in the dough, which produces mochi with a rough surface and a whiter appearance. Mochi is usually divided into balls, which are coated with mashed red beans or peanut grits.

4.2.2. Nien-Kuo (New Year Cake)

Short-grain waxy rice is preferred for making nien-kuo. The rice is soaked for several hours and ground into a slurry using a stone mill. The excess water is removed by centrifugation, or by straining the slurry through cotton cloth bags pressed by heavy stones. The resulting material contains 45% moisture. Sugar, water and rice our (8:7:10 ratio) are mixed to obtain a batter (Table 16.5) which is steamed for 45 hr, cooled and packaged (Figure 16.6).

4.2.3. Bi-Tai-Ba (Rice Noodle)

Several types of rice noodles, such as mi-fen, bi-tai-ba, and ho-fen, are popular in Taiwan, Japan, Southeast Asia and in overseas Chinese communities. The

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TABLE 16.5.

Characteristics of Nien-Kuo Made from Different Formulas [23].

Ingredient Ratios (Sucrose:Water:Flour) 11:4:10
3612 0.79 5.66 26.12 1.01 12.34

Hardnessa AW b pH Hunter L a b
a b

2245 0.81 5.85 29.37 0.56 ---

1801 0.86 5.84 32.70 0.45 9.12

1587 0.87 6.01 33.07 0.31 9.25

1432 0.90 6.10 34.82 0.05 10.69

Measured by Fudoh Rheometer. AW : Water activity.

Figure 16.6 Nien-kuo, a Chinese New Year cake.


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Figure 16.7 Rice noodle preparation: (A) piston dough extruder; (B) noodle extrusion; (C) cooked noodles; (D) forming noodles by single-screw extruder; (E) cooked extruder-made noodles; (F) extrusion of green, broad noodles.

popular mi-fen is used in main dishes. Generally, it is processed to the dry state and is steamed or cooked before serving. Bi-tai-ba is a short, coarse, wet noodle made by traditional procedures by soaking high-amylose-milled indica whole and broken rice kernels in water. The hydrated rice is stone milled in water to produce a slurry, which is divided

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Figure 16.8 Fa-kuo (rice mufns).

into two parts. About 75% of the rice slurry is strained through cotton cloth or sacks to remove the excess water. The other 25% of the ground rice slurry is heated to gelatinize the rice starch. Time, temperature and conditions vary with the producer and the rice used. Then the gelatinized slurry is thoroughly mixed with the ungelatinized ground rice to form a dough, which is forced through a hand or powered piston forming extruder to produce noodle strands 3 mm in diameter [Figures16.7(A)(C)]. The extruded noodles are placed in a boiling water bath or steamed to surface gelatinize the starch, cooled and packaged. During cooling, the surface of the noodle forms a strong lm (of retrograded starch), which gives proper texture to the product.

Figure 16.9 Flow chart for making bowl rice curd.

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Figure 16.10 Preparation of bowl rice curd: (A) washing/steeping; (B) wet milling; (C) rice slurry; (D) pregelatinized portion; (E) combining; (F) lling; (G) steaming; (H) packing; (I) product.

Bi-tai-ba noodles are consumed fresh; other rice noodles are dried outside after surface gelatinization using ambient air. Some noodles are deep-fat fried into crisp snacks and used in major dishes. Bi-tai-ba is mixed with syrup and ice water in the hot season. It is served with meat, green onion and other seasonings as a main dish. Indica rice varieties with high amylose content are preferred for rice noodles because starch retrogradation is necessary for proper texture. Recently, Bi-tai-ba has been made using an extruder [Figure 16.7(E)]. Drymilled our, containing 38% moisture, is fed into a single-screw extruder, which has three barrel sections with temperatures set at 130, 100 and 50 C (266, 212 and 121 F) [24,25]. The extruded noodle strands are steamed, cooled and packaged.



4.2.4. Fa-Kuo (Rice Mufn)

Fa-kuo is a mufn-style rice snack consumed in Southeast Asia. Preferably, it is made from indica rice. A batter is made from dried or wet-milled rice our (100% base), plus 5080% sugar, 3.5% leavening agent, optional red coloring and 120% water. The batter is put in bowls, steamed 20 min and cooled (Figure 16.8). The red-colored mufn is mainly used for festivals. Typically, the family has nien-kuo and fa-kuo on Chinese New Years Day.

4.2.5. Bowl Rice Curd

Bowl rice curd is a traditional, popular food consumed at breakfast in southern Taiwan. Indica rice our is preferred for its preparation as shown in Figures 16.9 and 16.10. The process is similar to the production of rice noodles, but the dough is not extruded. Mixing the proper ratio of the raw and gelatinized slurries is critical to obtain good texture and eating quality in bowl rice curd [26].

4.2.6. Kuo-Tse-Rung (Rice cake)

Parched rice our is the starting ingredient in making kuo-tse-rung. This product is seldom served as a snack food in Taiwan, but is used mainly in religious ceremonies. Precooked or toasted waxy rice our is mixed with sugar, oil and other ingredients such as walnuts or almonds until sticky. Then it is transferred to a wooden mold, pressed tightly, steamed for about 40 minutes, cooled and packed (Figure 16.11).

Figure 16.11 Different kinds of rice cakes (kao-tse-rung).

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1. Unknown, 1998. Taiwan Food Statistics Book. Department of Food, Taiwan Provincial Government, Republic of China. 2. Chen, J. J., 1998. Effect of Hardness and Milling on Particle Size Distribution and Physicochemical Properties of Rice Flours. Ph.D. dissertation, University Taichung, Chung-Hsing, Taiwan. 3. Sakurai, J., 1971. Rice as an industrial raw material for manufacture of processed and ready-toeat rice products. (Proceedings) International Seminar on the Industrial Processing of Rice Madras, India. United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Vienna, p. 65. 4. Li, C. F. and B. S. Luh, 1980. Rice snack foods. In Rice: Production and Utilization. B. S. Luh, ed. American Association of Cereal Chemists, St. Paul, Minnesota, pp. 690711. 5. Juliano, B. O., 1985. Polysaccharides, proteins, and lipids of rice. In Rice: Chemistry and Technology, 2nd edition. B.O. Juliano, ed. American Association of Cereal Chemists, St. Paul, Minnesota, pp. 59141. 6. Chen, J. J. and S. Lu, 1997. Effect on the physicochemical characteristics of rice ours by milling methods of waxy rice in Taiwan. (Abstr.). Cereal Foods World, 42:629. 7. Setia, P., N. Childs, E. Wailes, and J. Livezey, 1994. The U.S. Rice Industry. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 8. Yeh, A. Y., W. H. Hsiu, and J. S. Shen, 1991. Some characteristics in extrusion cooking of rice noodle by twin screw extruder. J. Chinese Agricultural Chem., 29:340351. 9. Lu, S., J. S. Lin, and T. C. Lin, 1995. The effect of physicochemical characteristics at different soaking and dehydration conditions on wet-milled rice our. J. Food Science (Chinese), 22:426 437. 10. Lu, S., W. T. Fang, and C. Y. Lii, 1994. Studies on the effects of different hydrothermal treatments on the physicochemical properties of nonwaxy and waxy rices. J. Chinese Agriculture Chemical Society, 32:372383. 11. Lu, S. and W. J. Chen, 1988. Studies on the physicochemical properties of rice with different milling methods. (Proceedings) Symposium on Rice Quality, 310326. 12. Nishita, K. D. and M. M. Bean, 1982. Grinding methods: Their impact on rice our properties. Cereal Chem., 59:4649. 13. Bean, M. M. and K. D. Nishita, 1985. Rice ours for baking. In Rice Chemistry and Technology, 2nd edition. B.O. Juliano, ed. American Association of Cereal Chemists, St. Paul, Minnesota, pp. 539556. 14. Arisaka, M., K. Nakamura, and Y. Yoshi, 1992. Properties of rice our prepared by different methods. Denpun Kagaku, 39:155163. 15. Jomduang, S. and S. Mohamed, 1994. Effect of amylose/amylopectin content, milling methods, particle size, sugar, salt, and oil on the puffed product characteristics of a traditional Thai ricebased snack food (Khao Kriap Waue). J. Sci. Food Agri., 65:85. 16. Yang, J. H., 1994. Studies on Preparation, Processing Properties, and Affecting Factors of Semi-Dry Milling Rice Flour. Ph.D. dissertation, Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan. 17. Chen, J. J., 1995. Effect of Milling Methods on the Physicochemical Properties of Waxy Rice Flours. Master thesis, Chung-Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan. 18. Chen, J. J., S. Lu, and C. Y. Lii, 1998. Thermal characteristics and microstructure changes in waxy rice using different milling methods. J. Food Science (Chinese), 25:314330. 19. Williams, P. C. and D. C. Sobering, 1986. Attempts at standardization of hardness testing of wheat. I. The grinding/sieving (particle size index) method. Cereal Foods World, 31:359364.

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20. Su, J. W., 1998. Effect of Steeping and Milling on the Physicochemical Properties of Rice Flours and the Quality of Rice Curd. Masters thesis, Chung-Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan. 21. Chang, S. M. and T. L. Chang, 1995. The characteristics of explosion-pufng rice products with different amylose contents. J. Food Science (Chinese), 22:465478. 22. Huang R. M., M. B. Chou, and C. Y. Lii, 1998. Effect of the characteristics of rice and the processing conditions on the expansion ratio of dry cooked rice. J. Food Science (Chinese), 25:383393. 23. Lin, J. S., 1993. Studies on the Quality of New-Year Rice Cake at Different Soaking Conditions and Dehydration Methods, Master thesis, Chung-Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan. 24. Lu, S. and C. P. Yeh, 1996. Laboratory preparation of Bi-Tai-Ba by a single screw extruder. J. Food Science (Chinese), 23:650661. 25. Lu, S., M. S. Lin, T. Z. Lin, and C. Y. Lii, 1993. Studies on the quality of Bi-Tai-Ba and its frozen stability addition with commercial starches. J. Food Science (Chinese), 20:6474. 26. Jeang, C. L., S. J. Wu, and T. C. Lin, 1990. Effects of treatments of different additives on the texture of frozen rice curd. J. Agriculture and Forestry, 39:145155.

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Popcorn Products



OPCORN is probably the oldest snack food in the world. Although nearly every

one in the United States has popped corn at home in a pot or wire basket, the average person knows very little about why popcorn pops and what affects the process other than heat. After a brief orientation to the industry and its history, this chapter describes why popcorn pops, the different kinds of corn available and the machinery used to make various products. The important factors and basic processes common to all popcorn production are discussed. From there, the three major areas of popcorn use: in-home preparation, commercial (movie theatre, concession and loose popcorn sales) and industrial (packaged products) are described.


In calendar 1998, popcorn was the third most popular domestic snack after tortilla and corn chips and potato chips. Grocery and convenience outlet sales totaled $1.686 billion, including microwaveable popcorn, $1.136 billion; readyto-eat popcorn, $0.465 billion; and unpopped popcorn, $0.085 billion [1]. These gures do not include sales of freshly popped popcorn, estimated to be about $1.0 billion at theatres alone and $0.250 billion at various public concessions, which brought total domestic sales of popcorn products up to approximately $2.936 billion. Popcorn, a New World crop, initially was grown exclusively in the United States. Currently, approximately 30% of the worlds crop is grown in other

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countries, including Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Ukraine and many European countries, for domestic use and export. Popcorn may be grown wherever other hybrids of corn are grown. One of the largest contributors to popcorn quality is the handling of raw corn after it has been picked. Corn processors in the United States usually have more experience in these techniques than those in other parts of the world.


Corn has been a basic food in South and North America for over 5,000 years. No one knows when primitive man rst discovered that certain varieties of corn exploded when exposed to intense heat, but it must have been a signicant advancement to a people with only teeth and crude grinding tools. All the native Americans ate popcorn to some degree. The ancient Inca and Peruvian civilizations used the colorful popcorn for both food and ceremonial decorations. The oldest identied corn poppers have been found along the Northeast coast of Peru and date from about 300 AD. The oldest written record is from a Spaniard in 1650, who said that the Indians called the popped product pisancalla. Early American settlers cultivated (int-type) popcorn, which was used as a snack and breakfast cereal; dent corn was used for corn our and corn bread. Many families owned corn poppers consisting of wire baskets, with long wire handles tipped with wood, for holding and shaking popcorn over ames in replaces. As cities grew, street vendors started selling popcorn. A hot-air process, with wire baskets shaken over a ame, was used (Figure 14.1). In 1885, Charles Cretors left Decatur, Illinois, for Chicago to become a street vendor and develop a better peanut roaster. A gasoline-fueled wet (oil) popping machine, which also had a small compartment for roasting peanuts, was patented in 1983 and shown at the Columbian Exposition that year. The exposition was held to celebrate Chicagos rebuilding from the Great Fire of 1871 and the 400th year of Columbus discovery of the New World. Passersby stopped to watch corn popping and purchase bags of fresh product for a nickel. These colorful machines were readily accepted by street vendors, circuses and carnivals, and used for many years (Figure 14.2). They were the forerunners of corn poppers that eventually would become xtures in shopping malls and movie theatres throughout the nation. Another milestone in popcorn history at the 1893 exposition was the introduction of Cracker JackTM caramel-coated popcorn, the rst commercially successful snack based on popcorn [2]. This product line, with the traditional small prize in the package, was purchased in 1999 by the nations largest snack foods producer, Frito-Lay Company of Dallas, Texas.

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Figure 14.1 Street vendor popping corn over a ame, mid-1800s.

Over the years, C. Cretors & Company continued to innovate popcorn handling equipment. Developments included:
r r r r

1916First electric oil popper used commercially in movie theatres 1936First electric kettle with a thermostat 1963Automatic wet popper 1965Cretors Automatic Cooker and MixerTM for cooking high-temperature candy and low-temperature savory avors and coating popcorn, now called the Cretors Caramelizer r 1970Flo-ThruTM hot-air popper, the rst high-volume industrial popcorn popping machine [2]. A corn metering system, oil measuring system, microprocessor controls and bag-in-box oil pumps were developed later.

As the popcorn processing industry grew, other innovators contributed their design skills and a number of equipment manufacturers exist currently. C. Cretors & Company also sold popcorn supplies from 1900 to the late 1930s, but suspended industrial sales to focus on popcorn processing equipment sold under the Flo-ThruTM line name.

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Figure 14.2 1893 mobile gasoline-fueled corn popper and peanut roaster. (C. Cretors & Company, Chicago, IL.)



To meet the objective of presenting a pleasing product to the consumer, it is important to understand why corn pops before variety selection, harvesting, cleaning or processing can begin. Unlike most commercial snack foods, the pufng process occurs naturally in popcorn. A popcorn kernel contains naturally all hard starch, about 14% moisture, and has a very tough pericarp (hull) and outer layers of the kernel that are capable of withstanding an internal pressure of 135 psi (gauge) or (9.1 atmospheres). When heated, temperature and pressure in the kernel rise, the internal moisture is turned into superheated steam, the starch gelatinizes and the endosperm becomes pliable and rubbery-like. At about 135 psi internal pressure, the kernel ruptures and the superheated steam expands the starch and proteins to form a foam. As the steam is vented, the internal temperature drops. At the lower temperature, the starch/protein polymers retrograde into glassy-like polymers in foam form, which make popcorn crispy (Figure 14.3). Optimum popping requires a delicate balance of heating and moisture content. If the kernel is heated too quickly, the starch at the center is not gelatinized or softened. Although starch at the outer edge reaches the required temperature



Figure 14.3 Effects of temperature on expansion of popcorn: (A) appearance of kernels popped at 460 F and 420 F; (B) cellular structure, popped at 460 F; (C) cellular structure, popped at 420 F.

and pressure, causing the pericarp to rupture, the uncooked starch at the core of the kernel does not expand. If the heating process is too slow, the buildup of internal pressure cannot keep up with loss of moisture as steam vents from the tip of the kernel. Although the pericarp of the kernel is hard, non-porous, and can contain the increasing pressure, the tip, where the kernel was attached to the cob, is not pressure-tight and will gradually equalize the internal pressure with its surroundings. The optimum balance is to heat the kernel at a rate slow enough to cook the starch to its core before internal pressure ruptures the pericarp, but not so slow that the available moisture leaks out before the kernel reaches the popping temperature and pressure [Figure 14.3(C)]. The correct moisture for popcorn

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is in the range of 13.514.5%; it is not a constant and will vary from hybrid to hybrid and with the physical condition of the corn. With too little moisture, the kernels will not pop. With too much moisture, corn may develop a musty, stored avor. Optimum popping produces a 40-fold expansion as shown in Figure 14.4(D).


Since popcorn quality is generally dened by how large the kernels will pop or expand, a way is needed for determining whether decisions in breeding popcorns, selecting planting seed, drying corn after harvest, and adjusting corn processing machinery, are headed in the right direction. In practice, these are based on actual expansion tests. Two factors are important in making popcornthe expansion of the kernel and the percentage of kernels that pop. Expansion is the increase in volume during the popping process. In general, the more the corn expands, the better the product. From a consumers view, highly expanded corn is more tender and contains fewer partially popped kernels that are hard to chew. From a manufacturers view, expansion directly affects the protability of the operation. In concession stands in movie theaters and at sporting events, the operator buys popcorn by weight and sells it by volume (a full bag or box). High expansion translates directly into increased protability. Each percentage point of increased expansion is a reduction in raw material cost. The nancial reason to favor high expansion is not as pronounced in snack food plants where the end product is packaged and sold by weight. However, it does exist. Customers equate highly expanded corn with high quality. For the manufacturer, high expansion creates a physically larger bag for the same weight and may be considered a better buy by the customer. Highly expanded corn usually also indicates a low percentage of unpopped kernels or scrap. In this case, corn is purchased by weight and sold by weight, and lower scrap reduces raw material costs. Two problems are created if expansion of corn supplied to a snack food manufacturer is not consistent. First, when customers do not nd a consistent product, they will not search for that specic brand. Second, when the expansion is low, a preprinted bag lled to the correct weight does not appear full to the consumer. Commercial raw popcorn processors and large popcorn buyers use the Metric Weight Volume TesterTM MWVT (manufactured by C. Cretors & Co., Chicago, IL)to determine the potential expansion of a batch of popcorn [Figure 14.5(A)]. The MWVT is the ofcial measuring instrument of the Popcorn Institute, an organization that represents a large percentage of the popcorn processors in the world.

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Figure 14.4 (A) dent corn (l.) and four types of popcorn; (B) environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM) micrograph of popcorn hard endosperm, SG = starch granule; (C) ball (l.) and ake (r.) type popcorns; (D) popcorn expanded 40-fold by popping.

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Figure 14.5 (A) Metric Weight Volume TesterMWVT (C. Cretors & Co., Chicago, IL); (B) polystyrene foam box used to measure expansion volume and bulk density.

The MWVT consists of a batch-type oil popper with a cylinder into which the popped corn falls. The cylinder is calibrated to dene the expansion of the corn in cubic centimeters of popped corn per gram of raw popcorn input. The MWVT is equipped with instruments for accurately measuring the temperature and energy consumption of the popper and expansion of the popped corn. This makes it possible to duplicate results from one machine to another and provides a means of comparing different batches and hybrids of corn. The MWVT was originally developed for use by popcorn suppliers in their plants. Before hybrid grains became common, moisture and growing conditions were the primary factors affecting expansion of popcorn. The popcorn supplier would take a small sample from a large bin of freshly harvested corn, test it with the MWVT and record the result. The processor would then begin to dry small samples of the corn, testing the expansion as the process continued. As the normal harvest moisture decreased, the expansion increased. When the tests indicated the expansion was beginning to decrease, the processor knew at what moisture content the entire batch of popcorn should be dried to get maximum expansion.

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The MWVT is used primarily as a guide to predict the future performance of popcorn when it is popped. But once corn is popped, another method of measurement is needed. The most useful is bulk density. While the MWVT denes the volume of popcorn produced as a function of the amount of raw corn that was popped, bulk density of the nal product gives an indication of the effectiveness of the popping process itself. The measuring tube of the MWVT is 4.5 in. (11.4 cm) in diameter and 40 in. (101 cm) long. This provides good resolution and sensitivity for the laboratory. In the typical snack food plant, a quick method is needed for determining the effectiveness of adjustments made to the popcorn machine and the efciency of the operation. When operating a popcorn machine, the bulk density of the popcorn can be measured with a large open box. The corn that is to be measured should be taken from the system after the sifter and before the coating or avoring is applied. (This is not possible in the case of oil-popped corn.) The box should be approximately 12 in. (0.3 m) on a side for a total volume of 1 cubic foot (0.027 m3 ) [Figure 14.5(B)]. The normal weight range of popped corn needed to ll the box is 1.321.60 lb/ft3 (600725 g), or 2125g/L for ake corn used to make salted and savory products. When making caramel corn, the weight is higher and the density is approximately 1.752.00 lb/ft3 (800 to 900 g), or 2832 g/L.


Popcorn (Zea mays everta) is a form of int corn and differs from dent and other soft commercial corns in two ways [Figure 14.4(A)]. The rst is that it contains almost entirely hard starch [Figure 14.4(B)]. The second is that it has a very hard pericarp and outer layers of endosperm, which permit the internal pressure and temperature to rise high enough to pop. Also, see Chapter 3 on Food Quality of Corn. The original Indian corn is mainly grown as a curiosity and for decorative purposes, and the early popcorn varieties have essentially given way to highly improved hybrids. These are obtained by crossing different strains of popcorn to emphasize specic physical characteristics, popping expansion, taste and texture. The characteristics include kernel size, shape and texture. Two groups of popcorn are commercially available, yellow and white. White popcorn is a small white grain that appears similar to a grain of rice. Some specic hybrids use names like: baby rice, Japanese hulless or white hulless. The pericarp on this grain is thinner than on other hybrids, and after popping is not as noticeable when eaten. The popped kernels of these hybrids are very white, small in size and very tender. These hybrids are almost exclusively used in the home because they are very tender and fragile; breakage typically is excessive when used in commercial applications.

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Yellow popcorn [Figure 14.4(A)] is most commonly used in commercial operations. The kernels are rounded in shape and have a medium-yellow color. Several options within this group are available to the raw popcorn buyer. Various kernel sizes, dened as small, medium, and large, are available. The popped kernels also differ in shape. Most corn takes on an irregular shape when it pops and is referred to as ake or buttery popcorn [Figure 14.4(C)]. Some hybrids take on a more rounded shape and are referred to as ball or mushroom corn. When ball-type corn is popped, the kernels expand from a small spherical shape to a much larger size. The slightly brownish color spots on the surface are the remaining areas that previously contacted the underside of the pericarp. The round ball shape should not be confused with heat balls that result from popping corn too rapidly. When a ake-type kernel pops, it turns inside out, and pieces of the trapped hull can often be found inside. Popped ake-shaped kernels are usually more tender and crisp, and are avored with salt and cheese in relatively gentle tumble drums. The ball/mushroomshaped kernels have fewer small protrusions to break off and are used in more vigorous avor application systems such as the caramel-coating process.


Essentially all popcorn is grown under contract, in some cases by thirdgeneration farmers supplying the same corn processor or industrial user. Hybrid selection, production, harvesting, storage and handling are carefully controlled. Popcorn quality starts in the eld. Although popcorn grows on a stalk like other corns and can be harvested by the same processes, several precautions must be taken to get a top-quality product. The popcorn plants and ears are not as large as those of the more commonly grown eld corn. Adjustments and modications must be made to the machinery to ensure the popcorn kernels are not damaged in the picking and shelling processes. Damage, in the form of scratches or cracks in the pericarp, reduces expansion of the kernels during popping. In the past, to avoid this problem some growers/suppliers would pick and husk the corn, and keep it on the ear until shelled at a central plant with the equipment adjusted to handle the smaller ears. This resulted in higher costs, but the corn was promoted as very high quality. After air and gravity separators, and precision sizers, most popcorn processors also use computerized color sorters. Virtually every kernel is inspected by an optical system that identies discolored kernels, weed seeds, stones and foreign matter, and removes them with a jet of air. After the corn is cleaned, sorted, and inspected, it is slowly dried to the optimum moisture content for maximum expansion during popping. Dried corn may be stored almost indenitely as long as the moisture level is not allowed to change. Kernels of popcorn over 4,000 years old, found in caves in New Mexico, have been successfully popped.

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Popcorn purchased in grocery stores has the greatest variation in quality and packaging methods. Raw popcorn is often sold in exible laminated packaging. The primary requirement of this packaging is that it contain a barrier to eliminate the possible loss of moisture, which is critical to successful popping. High-prole brands, such as Orville ReddenbackerTM , are packaged in screwtop plastic or glass jars. Reddenbacker had a major inuence in improving the quality of popcorn for home use. He developed very tender avorful hybrids that were adapted to popping in the home and packaged them in glass jars, which kept the moisture at the correct level. Before Reddenbacker, popcorn was usually packed in inexpensive exible lms and had a tendency to dry out on the grocery store shelf. Orville Redenbacher made theatre popcorn quality available to the average person popping corn at home. Today, microwave popcorn is the most common form of packaging found in grocery stores. The packages are the result of much research, and many patents have been issued to manufacturers of these products. The typical microwave package contains popcorn, popping oil and salt for avor. When the package is placed in a microwave and cooked, the corn pops and the package expands to become a serving bag. Although these products are fast and easy to prepare, they are somewhat different from traditional oil-popped products.

2.5.2. Vendor-Use Popcorn

Commercial processors, such as concession stands and movie theaters, buy their raw popcorn packed in two ways. The most common is a 50 lb (22.68 kg) plastic-lined paper bag. This package will keep corn fresh for at least six months if not exposed to excessive heat. Additionally, popcorn is sold in a 50-lb case of four 12 1/2 lb (5.67 kg) polypropylene bags. These small bags are useful in small concession stands where an open 50-lb bag would not be consumed for a long time.

2.5.3. Industrial-Use Popcorn

Industrial processors start off where the commercial end; 50-lb bags are commonly used. However, automatic popcorn machines capable of consuming one bag a minute require larger units of measure for their raw corn supply. Bulk totes, with a capacity of 2,500 lb (1,134 kg) are available to the large industrial user. The totes are expensive and are recycled between the corn

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supplier and processor. They are usually used in conjunction with a long-term contract. Bulk shipping of popcorn is possible for processors using large volumes and equipped with a high level of automation. In this system, corn is loaded in bulk into a tank truck, and the plant that receives the popcorn is equipped with a large metal bulk tank to hold it. A typical load might be 40,000 lb (18,144 kg). When the truck arrives, it is emptied into a receiving pit or collector and pneumatically transferred to the storage tank. Corn is then fed from these tanks directly to the popper. Gentle handling of corn to avoid breakage is critically important.


3.1. OIL POPPING 3.1.1. Popping Process

The oil or wet popping process, patented by Charles Cretors in 1893, is most commonly used in point-of-purchase concession stands and was the most common in homes before the advent of the microwave. Corn and oil are placed in a container in a ratio of three parts corn and one part oil by volume. The corn begins to pop when the corn and oil reach the proper temperature. Enough heat (450 F, 232 C) needs to be applied to the bottom of the pan for a normal popping cycle of 2.53.0 minutes. At that time, the corn expands to its greatest volume. The time cycle may be adjusted by either changing the heating rate or, if the rate is xed, by changing the amount of raw material put in the cooking pan. The corn and oil must be agitated during the process to obtain even transfer of heat. In commercial machinery, a motor turns an agitator on the bottom of the popper kettle. In the home, the pot in which the corn is being popped is shaken over a burner on a stove. Popping corn in oil is probably the simplest snack-production process available and permits making the end product at the point of purchase. The aroma, animation, and the obvious freshness of the product, make the process ideal for concession stands where the consuming public can see and smell the product being made.

3.1.2. Oils Used

Oil serves two purposes. The rst is the transfer of heat from the bottom of the popping pan or kettle to the popcorn kernels. The second is to add avor to the nished product. Generally, any shelf-stable oil that will tolerate the high temperature of the popping process can be used; see Chapter 6, Oils and Industrial Frying. Several

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factors should be considered when choosing popping oil. The rst is melting point. If the melting point is above body temperature, the nished product can leave a waxy coating inside the consumers mouth. Popcorn is often eaten in conjunction with cold drinks, which can accentuate the waxy sensation and make the product undesirable. Popular popping oils in the United States are coconut, corn, peanut, sunower, canola, soybean and commercial blends. All have melting points below body temperature, and some are liquid at most room temperatures. The primary differences are their avors and how they perform in the popping kettle. The temperature in a popping kettle usually exceeds 450 F, a temperature that will carbonize and burn the residual oil left in the kettle. Some oils are more inclined to create a carbon buildup in the kettles, and a direct relationship to the amount of unsaturated fatty acids in the oil exists. For many years, coconut oil was the most popular popping oil. Initially, it was relatively inexpensive. It melts at 76 F, is very stable and has a good avor. This oil is also desirable from the manufacturing point of view because it creates a minimum of carbon in the popping kettle. The only negative is that it is highly saturated and is considered by some consumers to be unhealthy.


This process is found in home, commercial and industrial applications. The rst hot-air poppers were wire baskets, holding a small amount of popcorn, that were held over a re. The baskets were shaken rapidly to agitate the corn and keep it from burning. Today, commercial versions of this process use a motorized rotating wire drum over an open ame or electric heat elements. This type of corn popper was used in retail locations in the United States for many years before development of the oil pop method.


The same process that warms a cup of coffee will pop corn. Microwave ovens can rapidly heat the water and starch throughout a corn kernel to the temperature of popping. Due to high energy costs of operation, this method of popping corn is found almost exclusively in the home, where microwave ovens are common.


Not every kernel in a popper charged with raw corn will pop. Additionally, some kernels will not pop completely, resulting in heat balls and hard or tough pieces. Being more dense than fully popped corn, these kernels normally settle

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to the bottom of the bowl or bag as consumers help themselves to the fresh product. However, they are undesirable in industrially made popcorn, especially in products like caramel corn where they may be stuck to fully puffed kernels by the coating and create dental pain and damage during mastication. Typically, screens are used to remove the smaller unpuffed kernels when making puffed corn products. These are further described under Sifting and Scrap in the next major section of this chapter.



Traditional salted popcorn is made by putting corn in a pot with oil and salt, and heating and shaking until popping is completed. Some experimentation is necessary to be successful. The level of heat applied to the pot must be controlled so that the popping process takes about 2.5 minutes from a cold start with oil and corn. If the oil is preheated, as some operators prefer, the popping time will be only about 1.5 minutes. Extreme caution must be exercised when preheating the oil. If the process is left unattended, the oil may become overheated and begin to burn.


Hot-air poppers are popular in homes where consumers are concerned about fats and oils in their diet. Also, many people like them because they require little cleanup. Small hot-air home poppers operate on the principle of forcing heated air up through a bed of popcorn to heat it until it pops. The popped corn may then be seasoned with salt, butter or other avors as desired.


Microwaving is probably the easiest way to prepare popcorn, requires the least cleanup, but is the most expensive in cost per serving. Raw popcorn and oil are packed in a specially designed package that is placed in a microwave oven and heated. Directions are printed on microwave popcorn packages. The packages are disposable serving containers for the nished product.

Salt is the most popular avoring for popcorn in the United States. When the corn is oil-popped, salt is added to the popping kettle with the raw corn and oil.



The best type of salt to use is the nest size grade available. This is often called popcorn salt or our salt and is more like a powder than a ne grain. Cheese and other avors can be added easily in powder form by shaking onto the corn after it is popped. Caramel corn is often made at home. Sugar, water and glucose (corn syrup) are brought to a boil and cooked to hard-crack temperature, about 300 F (149 C). After the sugar is cooked, a small amount of baking soda may be added to the mixture to cause it to foam. This foaming action increases the volume by four to ve times. It is important that the kettle in which the sugar is cooked be large enough to contain the expanded volume. Popped corn is then mixed into the foaming caramel. While the popcorn is still warm, it may be formed into shapes such as balls or bars. If loose caramel corn is desired, a mixture of liquid lecithin and vegetable oil is sprayed on the caramel corn as it is worked on a at surface while cooling.



Popcorn machines for concession stands are available in a broad range of sizes. Small countertop machines, 14 in. (35 cm) deep by 20 in. (51 cm) wide, have a processing capacity of 7 lb (3 kg) of popped corn per hour. Large machines, 6 ft (1.8 m) long and nearly 7 ft (2.1 m) tall, are capable of producing 100 lb (45 kg) per hour of popped corn and are often found in movie theaters (Figure 14.6). The most prominent feature of these machines is the popper pan. This is a steel or aluminum pan with heating elements on the underside and a thermostat to control the temperature. In addition to heating elements, the pans are equipped with a motorized stirring mechanism to keep the corn from burning during the popping process. The larger machines are equipped with a pump and timer to pump the correct amount of popping oil into the kettle at the beginning of each cycle. The cabinets of larger machines may have many features. Enclosed models have exhaust fans and grease lters to trap any smoke or oil vapor produced in the popping process. The lower part of the cabinet usually has a perforated screen with circulating hot air to keep the popped corn warm and crisp. This perforated screen also has a section with a sieve to separate the unpopped and undersized kernels from the rest of the corn. The basic process is to add corn, oil and salt to the kettle and turn on the heat and agitator. When starting with a cold kettle, the rst cycle can take 68 minutes. The following cycles should take no more than 2.53.5 minutes. In most of these machines, the oil is supplied by a pump equipped with a timer to provide the correct amount to the kettle.

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Figure 14.6 Oil popper for large concession stands and movie theaters, 100 lb/hr (45 kg) capacity. (C. Cretors & Company, Chicago, IL.)

5.1.1. Salted Popcorn

Salt can be added to the corn oil mixture at the beginning of the process. Salt is normally used in North America; sugar is more common in much of Europe.

5.1.2. Sugar Popcorn

The sugar corn process is slightly different than that for salted corn and requires more attention from the operator. The basic problem is that popcorn pops at temperatures over 400 F (200 C), and sugar begins to carbonize badly above 310 F (155 C). This requires that thermostats on the popcorn kettle be set slightly lower than when popping salted corn, and the operators must be more attentive and empty the popping kettle as soon as the popping process

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is complete. The popping kettles also require more cleaning to remove carbon buildup from the residual sugar or from savory avors if used. While there are different recipes, typically the corn-to-oil ratio is reduced from 3:1 to 4:1, and the overall volume by 20 to 30%. The reduced volume is replaced with white granulated sugar. The sugar-to-corn ratio is usually 0.71.0 sugar to 1 of corn. The sugar is usually added to the kettle with the corn and oil, but some operators prefer to add the sugar just as the corn begins to pop. Adding the sugar later produces a whiter popcorn because sugar added at the beginning of the cycle has a greater tendency to burn and add a slight brown color to the corn.


Batch-type dry poppers are rotating wire drums that are suspended over a ame or electric heater. Corn is placed in the popper and the heat is turned on. As the corn pops, a screen made from coarse wire scoops the popped corn out of the rotating drum. This type of popper is often found in shops that specialize in caramel and other avored corns. Automatic dry poppers operate on the same principle as home poppers in that hot air is blown up through a bed of corn to heat it to popping temperature. With this machine, there is an option of producing dry corn for sale or letting the corn fall onto a pan with an agitator that stirs it while oil is added. After the corn is dry popped and screened, it may be avored with many different toppings. Popcorn has a pleasant neutral avor and just about any other avor can be added. The most common are oil and salt, cheddar cheese, sugar and caramel with nuts.



Industrial oil popcorn production lines consist of one or more banks of the largest oil poppers set up over a conveyor belt (Figure 14.7). Typically, six poppers are set side by side and one operator adds corn, oil and salt to the machines. Operating on a typical 3-min cycle, the operators will dump, empty and rell a popper every 30 seconds. Corn is usually fed by hand using sized measuring cups. Oil may be added to the kettle in several ways. In one option, oil is circulated from a large central oil storage tank to volumetric measuring points above each popper. When it is time to recharge a popper, the dry ingredients are added to the kettle and the oil measure is emptied into the kettle. Another approach is to have a timed metering pump at each popper. The dedicated pump may draw

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Figure 14.7 (A) industrial 200 lb/hr oil popper. (B) industrial oil-popping line consisting of smaller units mounted above takeaway conveyor and sifter to remove unpopped corn. (C. Cretors & Company, Chicago, IL.)

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oil from a manifold that circulates from a central tank, or from individual 50-lb (22.68 kg) pails. In an additional option, the pumps are immersed in the pails themselves and are equipped with thermostatically controlled heating elements to melt frying shortening or oils that are solid at room temperature.


Currently, hot-air popping of corn is used mainly in industrial applications. The commercial hot-air corn popper is essentially a continuously fed, uidizedbed oven. While it is primarily a popcorn machine, it is also used to puff thirdgeneration snacks and roast peanuts and will process any type of snack that requires precise temperature and time control and a continuous process. The extremely high air velocity can transfer heat almost as quickly as oil popping processes. Continuous dry poppers recirculate 90% of the air used in the process and require a short time to reach a stable atmosphere once popping begins. This is due to the fact that almost 10% of the weight of the corn is lost as moisture inside the cabinet during the popping process. Within ve minutes, the atmosphere in the cabinet is stable and a very consistent product is produced.

6.2.1. Dry Popper Design

The basic design of a Cretors Flo-ThruTM Dry Popper is used as an example. The machine consists of an horizontal auger with nine complete ights wrapped around the shaft. The auger has a 16 in. diameter and is wrapped with a perforated steel sheet with 3/32 in. holes. About 33% of the steel is open holes and 67% is metal. The combined auger and perforated steel wrap is called a popping drum and revolves as one unit [Figure 14.8(A)]. The entire assembly is installed in an oven [Figure 14.8(B)], which is held at a temperature of 430 F (221 C). A fan at the bottom of the oven blows hot air up through the bottom of the perforated rotating drum. Raw popcorn or any product to be processed is introduced into one end of the cylinder, and heated air is forced up through the perforations in the cylinder with enough pressure to uidize the material lying on the bottom surface of the drum. The high velocity of the air agitates the corn and provides for very rapid and uniform heat transfer. As the drum revolves, the heated product is propelled toward the popping and discharge end of the machine. Adjustable controls built into the machine provide full control of the process. The feed rate is usually adjustable and appropriate for the size of machine. The variable-speed drum permits control of the residence time from 15 seconds to as long as 5 minutes. When popping corn, the residence time is about 80 seconds at 420445 F (215230 C). The recirculating atmosphere makes it possible to control the temperature to within 2 F (1 C) once the process is stable. The volume of airow that uidizes the product is controlled by the rpm of the

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Figure 14.8 (A) popping drum; (B) hot-air popping oven for industrial popper. (C. Cretors & Company, Chicago,IL.)

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Figure 14.9 (A) reel-type sifter used to remove unpopped and partially popped kernels and fragments of hot-air-popped pop corn; (B) closeup of sifter screen; (C) effects of popping temperature on popcorn bulk density and scrap. (C. Cretors & Company, Chicago, IL.)

blower. For popcorn, the best airow is that which just provides uidizatioin and agitation. Excess air usually damages the popped kernels. The popped corn next enters a sifter [Figure 14.9(A) and (B)] to remove unpopped kernels and then proceeds to a coating drum where avorings are applied.

6.2.2. Operating Adjustment Options

Popcorn kernels are a raw grain. The only prior processing they have been exposed to is cleaning, sizing, and drying to the appropriate moisture level for maximum expansion. The variability of a natural product requires that the popcorn machine operator be able to adjust the machine to compensate for variation in kernel size, shape, hybrid type and moisture content.

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The temperature is critically important [Figure 14.9(C)]. The typical dry popper has four variables that can be used to control the output of the machine. These variables are: feed rate, residence time, temperature and air circulation rate. Before a popper can be adjusted successfully, it is important to start from a neutral point. r Feed Rate. When tuning up a machine, the rst step is to check the feed rate of raw popcorn to determine if it is within the capabilities of the machine. A 200 lb/hr machine has a maximum feed rate of 200 lb/hr. If there is a question, it is best to check this out with the manufacturer. All Cretors machines use the model number as a designation of the maximum feed rate. This is the amount of raw corn fed into the machine, and not the output of the machine. Once the size of the machine has been determined, the calibration of the feeder must be checked to determine if the input is within the normal operating range of the machine. If difculties in successfully controlling the output of the machine have been experienced, it is best to start at a feed rate of about 80% of the recommended maximum. r Residence Time. Once the feed rate is determined, the residence time of the corn in the popper must be checked. The ideal starting point is a residence time of 7580 seconds. It is controlled by the rotational speed of the popping drum, which should turn at about 7 rpm to obtain the desired time. r Temperature. Temperature of the nal product is the most prominent variable and is dependent on the residence time (drum speed), size and hybrid of individual corn kernels, and moisture content of the corn. A good starting temperature for the popper is 435 F (224 C). r Air Circulation. Air circulation is controlled by the speed of the fan. The rpm required depends on many factors. The design of the particular machine and the internal clearances will affect the rpm needed for correct operation. It is best to check the manual supplied with the machine to determine the correct rpm. Adjustment of the blower rpm is extremely important for correct operation of the machine. It is important to understand the theory and function of air circulation in order to properly adjust the blower. A layer of corn lies on the bottom of a perforated drum in a continuous uidized bed popcorn machine. Heated air is forced up through the perforations with enough force to agitate the corn and cause it to act like a uid mass. The agitation and high velocity of air achieve a high rate of heat transfer between air and the corn. When the air pressure is too low, the air will not pass through the layer of corn and will not circulate within the cabinet. If the pressure is too high, the corn can be damaged by the violence of the airow. The feed rate can be adjusted to provide the amount of corn required for any given process. It should be remembered that the quality of popcorn produced may deteriorate as the maximum rating of the machine is approached or



exceeded. An increase in feed rate will increase the thickness of the corn bed on the bottom of the popping drum and may also require an increase in blower rpm. If the feed rate is already near maximum, the temperature also may need to be increased. Once the desired feed rate has been established by adjustment, the remaining three variables are used to control the character of the corn that is produced. It is important to adjust poppers in small increments: temperature, 2 F (1 C); drum speed, 0.1 RPM; and blower speed, 50 RPM and wait long enough for the change to take effect. If the drum speed is set to produce a residence time of 75 seconds, the results of any change to blower or drum speed require at least 7580 seconds before the effects are seen. In the case of a temperature change, the time required for the cabinet to adjust to the new setting must be added to the residence time. When popped corn lls the drum above the center line, the drums rotation does not move all of it forward. Some spills over the center into the preceding space in the auger and moves backwards in the drum, eventually plugging the drum. Periodic plugging and clearing is called surging, and usually is caused by too high a feed rate. Surging can also be caused by too high a temperature, which causes the corn to pop in the rst half of the drum. A popper usually is considered to be operating correctly if the corn is heard to be popping at the discharge end of the popping drum. If the corn is popping in the sifter after it leaves the machine, the temperature is too low or some other variable is not correct.

6.2.3. Adjusting for Variability in Popcorn

Referring to the two types of popcorn described earlier, ake type (high volume, low density) and ball type (low volume, high density), the following adjustments may further optimize the popping operation: r Flake type Characteristics: Kernels are irregular Kernels are fragile and crispy Scrap rate is higher Machine adjustments: Lower the popping temperature Slow the drum speed for longer residence time Lower the feed rate r Ball type Characteristics: Kernels are more spherical

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Kernels are stronger and tougher Scrap rate is lower Machine adjustments: Raise the popping temperature Increase the drum speed for shorter residence time Increase the feed rate A wet (oil) popper heats the corn at anywhere from 420 F to 500 F (215 260 F) in 0180 seconds during the popping cycle. In contrast, a dry popper heats the corn at 430 F for 80 seconds and has a very narrow range of operating conditions. It requires a very uniform corn. Major variations in raw popcorn are moisture, kernel size, high-expansion corn, hybrid uniformity and changes in corn stored in the users warehouse or bins. Moisture
High-moisture corn pops at a low-temperature; low-moisture corn pops at a high temperature. If two bags of popcorn, one at 14% and one at 13%, are mixed completely and the moisture is checked, the assay will be 13.5% moisture. If put in a dry popper, with the temperature set to pop the high-moisture corn, most of the low-moisture corn will leave the machine unpopped and be discarded as scrap. If the temperature is increased to properly pop the low-moisture corn, the high-moisture corn will begin to pop early when the core starch has not yet been gelatinized, and small, tough, hard heat balls will be created and become even tougher in the hot-air popper. All the corn kernels must be equilibrated to the same moisture content. Kernel Size

Large kernels heat more slowly than small kernels. With a blend of large and small kernels, it is impossible to optimize hot-air popper conditions. The machine can only pop one size kernel satisfactorily. High-Expansion Corn

High-expansion corn is usually more desirable because it takes less weight to ll a given bag than low-expansion corn. However, expansion of the corn affects the operation of the popper because the popping drum cannot be lled more than half way with popped corn. Often, the operator erroneously thinks the feed rate is too high. Prior popping of new corn samples helps to prewarn the operator. When a consistently high expansion corn is encountered, as with a newly introduced hybrid, reducing the dry popper feed rate reduces raw materials costs and does not reduce popped corn production. This is a distinct

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operating benet, provided the high-expansion corn still ts into packaging materials with preprinted weights. Hybrid Uniformity

High-quality popcorn hybrids provide uniform grain with excellent potential for expansion and taste. However, environmental conditions signicantly affect popping quality. Popcorn suppliers have their corn grown in carefully selected environments that are consistently stable and provide good consistent corn quality for popping. Corn Changes in Storage

Reputable raw corn suppliers control their grain carefully to minimize variations in popping properties from shipment to shipment. However, changes occur in grain stored in the users warehouse or tanks. Repetitive major changes may require review of current packaging or operation of storage facilities. Accumulated adjustments that have been made while using the same shipment of corn over a long period may make the new shipment appear like an entirely different corn and therefore require major resetting of the hot-air popping equipment.


After the corn is popped, it must be cleaned to remove unpopped and undersized kernels. It is best to do this immediately after the corn has left the popper while the corn is still exible before cooling and drying. If the sifting process is delayed, popped corn becomes increasingly crisp, brittle and fragile, and unnecessary breakage occurs. The sifter is a stainless steel wire mesh drum that rotates on a horizontal axis. Unpopped, undersized and broken kernels pass through the 7/16 in. (1.1 cm) square opening between the wires and are separated from the rest of the corn (Figure 14.9). When small-grain, white popcorn is used, it is advisable to reduce the screen size to avoid discarding too much good corn.


Popcorn is a natural product, and variations in the grain affect yield, even with sophisticated processing. For example, not all kernels will pop to the volume needed for commercial distribution, some kernels wont pop at all and should never be packaged and sold. It is necessary to clean the popped corn with a rotary sifter before it is coated with avors or sold. A typical materials

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balance is: 100. kg 12. kg 8. kg 80. kg Load of raw popcorn containing approximately 14% moisture Moisture and corn oil vapor loss during the popping process 88. kg Sifted out as unpopped or partially popped corn Popped corn yield produced from 100 kg raw popcorn, using a 7/16 in. (1.1 cm) wire-mesh sifting screen.


One or more avoring and color agents, like oil, salt, cheese or sugar, typically are added to corn after popping. Coating processes for popcorn are similar to those of other expanded snacks. They can be divided into two basic systems, batch and continuous.


Batch coaters for salt and savory popcorn typically are coating pans that turn on an axis, inclined 30 degrees from horizontal [Figure 14.10(A)]. The popcorn to be coated is placed in the pan, and the oil coating and avor are introduced as the pan turns. The coating is either poured from a measuring pan or pumped in by a pump with a timer control. The pan is allowed to turn until the coatings are evenly distributed on the surface of the corn. At this point, the coating pan is stopped, emptied and relled for another batch.

Figure 14.10 (A) batch coating pan; (B) continuous horizontal coating drum. (C. Cretors & Company, Chicago, IL.)

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Continuous coaters typically are horizontal stainless steel drums, 2436 in. (6090 cm) in. diameter, that turn on their axis [Figure 14.10(B)]. The coater may be depressed or inclined slightly to promote or retard product ow. In principle, the popcorn and coating are introduced at one end of the rotating drum, and the coating is evenly distributed over the popcorn by the time the product exits from the other end of the drum. The continuous coater is usually equipped with a variable-speed drum drive to control residence time, a variablespeed pump so that the coating ratio may be varied and a dry applicator to apply salt or other dry seasonings.


Salt and cheese avors are usually applied with oil, which acts as a vehicle to carry the avor to the corn and help it stick. In the case of salted corn, the oil is sprayed on the corn with almost any type of spray nozzle at concentrations from 20 to 30% of the nished weight of the product. Color or avorings may be added to the oil to produce different products. Salt is blown or metered into the coater at a steady rate to produce the desired avor. To begin a cheese coating process, a slurry is prepared by mixing coconut oil or another shelf-stable oil with powdered cheese. Cheese content is usually 30%50% by weight. This mixture is then heated to 120 F130 F (49 54 C) to melt the cheese. Melting the cheese is important because the coating sprays much more easily and is less likely to plug the pump, oil lines or spray nozzle. Additionally, the liquid cheese is better absorbed by the popcorn and is less likely to come off in the bag or on the customers hands. Care must be taken to not heat the oil and cheese mix too rapidly. If the surface temperature of the mixing kettle becomes too hot, the cheese will be darkened and the avor changed. Typically, cheese begins to break down above 130 F (54 C). An agitator must be in the tank to keep the oil and cheese blended. Cheese-avored popcorn can also be made by adding powdered cheese to either oil- or dry-popped popcorn. Although used in some plants, these products are not commonly seen because the powdery coating comes off on consumers hands, even though some manufacturers feel they have better avor. A typical continuous system for producing salty and savory popcorn is shown in Figure 14.11(A).


The preparation of sweet-coated snacks is more complex than for salted and savory popcorn because the sugar coating must be mixed and cooked

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Figure 14.11 Systems for continuous production of: (A)savory avor-coated popcorn; (B) caramelcoated popcorn. (C. Cretors & Company, Chicago, IL.)

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Figure 14.12 Basic equipment for batch production of sweet caramel popcorn: (A) steam-jacketed kettle for preheating syrup; (B) copper kettle for cooking caramel; (C) mixing auger for coating popped corn; (D) working and cooling table for coated popcorn. (C. Cretors & Company, Chicago, IL.)

before application. The batch process for making sweet-coated popcorn begins by boiling a sugar solution in a stainless steel or copper kettle to make hard candy or caramel [(Figure 14.12(B)]. The boiling solution is then poured over the popped corn in a mixer, consisting of a drum rotating in a vertical axis with an internal vertical rotating auger along the side of the drum wall [Figure 12(C)]. The resulting action lifts and mixes the puffed product and sugar to distribute coating over the popcorn. Sugar or caramel is made in the batch system by adding sugar, water and glucose (dextrose) to the cooking kettle and heating to 300 F (149 C). This is called hard-crack candy. The recipe may include varying amounts of white sugar, brown sugar, butter and various other avorings or colorings as may be desired. If butter is used in the mix, it is added at the end of cooking so the

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avor wont be lost. Just before the sugar mix is poured onto the product, a small amount of baking soda may be added to the mix to make it foam. Foaming doubles or triples the mixs volume. The light frothy mixture does a better job of coating than the heavy sugar produced at the end of the cooking cycle. The amount of soda used must be watched very carefully. Too much causes a bitter taste in the nished product. It should be noted that copper catalyzes development of avor in the coating. Therefore, reformulation may be necessary if a copper cooking kettle is replaced with stainless steel or aluminum equipment. In larger systems, steam-jacketed cooking kettles [Figure 14.12(A)] are used to premix and preheat all the ingredients to 180 F (82 C) before they are added to the cooking kettle[Figure 14.12(B)]. This substantially speeds up the cooking process in the kettles. The maximum practical holding temperature for the premix is 180 F. If held above this temperature for more than approximately an hour, the premix color darkens and avors begin to change. As a result, caramel coating made from the same batch of premix will not be consistent from the beginning to the end. After the sugar and popcorn are well coated, a small amount of an oil/lecithin mixture is sprayed into the coating drum. The lecithin mix causes the product to separate into individual particles. The typical ratio is one part liquid lecithin to 10 parts oil. Hot caramel or candy-coated product from the coater is next placed on a cooling table [Figure 14.12(D)] and stirred with hand tools while it cools. Continuous agitation and lecithin are necessary to produce a free-owing product. If a large amount of product is to be made, a horizontal continuous cooling tumbler may be used. A cooling tumbler is a large drum about 4 ft (120 cm) in diameter and 8 ft (240 cm) long, made of perforated metal. The tumbling action provides the agitation necessary to separate the product, and the perforations allow air to circulate and cool the product to a temperature where it is no longer sticky. Air conditioning must be used with caution when cooling caramel corn. Popcorn and hot sugar are very hygroscopic and absorb moisture from the air quickly. Air-conditioning systems often produce cold air at very high moisture levels. It is important to temper the air to reduce its relative humidity.


Automated batch sweet products coaters are different from the manual batch coaters in several ways:
r The amount of sugar coating cooked is signicantly larger. r Cooking and mixing take place in the same piece of equipment.



Figure 14.13 Cooker/coater for automated batch popcorn sweet coatings. (C. Cretors & Company, Chicago, IL.)

r Hydraulic or pneumatic power, rather than manual labor, is used to empty

the batch from the machine. Automated batch cooker/coaters generally have a batch size of 90 lb (40 kg) of sugar coating. All ingredients may be mixed and cooked in the kettle/coater [Figure 14.13]. The cycle time and the hourly production rate may be increased by premixing and heating the ingredients in a steam-jacketed kettle [Figure 14.12(A)]. Once the coating is fully cooked, the popcorn is added to the kettle and the internal mixing system is turned on to blend the products. When the corn is completely coated, a small amount of an oil/lecithin mixture is sprayed on the product to facilitate its separation into individual pieces as it cools. When the process is complete, the kettle/coater drum is dumped with the help of pneumatic or hydraulic cylinders. From the coater, the hot sugar-coated popcorn goes to a continuous cooler where it is cooled and agitated. This agitation, with help from the lecithin sprayed on earlier, causes the popcorn to separate into individual pieces. The popcorn is ready for packaging after it leaves the separating and cooling tumbler.

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The fully automatic continuous system [Figure 14.11(B)] uses premix kettles to hold all sugar ingredients at a high temperature. The premix is pumped to a thin lm concentrator, where the syrup is cooked to a hard-crack temperature (300 F, 148 C) in about ve seconds. The caramel then ows to a steam-heated, stainless steel trough with a steam-heated auger that blends the continuous ow of popcorn and hot sugar into a nished product. At a point, about one third of the way through the coating process, a small amount of lecithin-oil mixture is sprayed into the coater to promote separation of the product into individual particles. From the coater, the hot sugar-coated snack goes to a continuous cooler where it is cooled and separated. After the caramel corn leaves the cooling and separating tumbler, it is ready for packaging.


The avor is very important to the nished popcorn product and often is the rst item in the snack namecheese corn, caramel corn, or salt and vinegar. It is important that the amount of avor not be reduced in an effort to reduce costs, since usually it cheapens the product and makes it difcult to sell.
r Salted Popcorn

Oil Pop Popcorn 3 volumes raw corn 1 volume popping oil Salt to taste (our or ne salt) Dry Pop Popcorn 80% popcorn (weight) 20 to 22% coating oil (weight) Salt to taste r Cheese-Flavor Popcorn 1525 % cheese (weight) 28% oil (weight) 57% popcorn (weight) r Sweet Popcorn, Sugar Corn 3.0 volumes raw corn 0.75 volume popping oil 1.52.0 volume sugar depending on taste r Caramel Corn Batch 70% light brown sugar 21% glucose

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9% water Flavorings as desired Continuous 65% light brown sugar 25% glucose 10% water Flavorings as desired Finished Product 70%90% Sugar Coating 30%10% Popcorn 100% 100% When working with articial fruit color and avors, begin with white sugar, which does not add avor of its own.



Popcorn is the most hygroscopic of the crispy snacks. The following principles to keep popcorn fresh and crisp apply to all crispy snacks. Tough and chewy popcorn is most frequently caused by weather-related excessive humidity. In an oil-popping operation, the problem usually occurs during days when the relative humidity (RH) is over 50%. In the midst of the summer or a rainy season, 7090% RH is a major challenge to handling popcorn. The desired moisture content for salted, cheese-avored, or other savory avors of snacks is 1.01.5% or less. A very crisp product at 12% moisture content turns into an increasingly chewy product at 45% moisture content. Some customers, especially fond of popcorn, object to moisture contents above 2.5%. The literature indicates that popcorn, initially at about 1.5% moisture, equilibrates to approximately 2.5% moisture at 20% RH in 15 minutes when completely exposed to the environment, 3.5% moisture at 30% RH, 4.5% moisture at 40% RH, 5.5% moisture at 50% RH, 6.5% moisture at 60% RH, and 7.5 % moisture at 70% RH [3]. Moisture absorption is slower in oil-popped corn. Nevertheless, minutes count when getting fresh popcorn into suitable packages, or at least into a protected temporary environment or tote.


r Burning natural gas and popping corn release large amounts of water into

the air. The popping room needs ample outside air intake and exhaust of

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steam and vapors directly from the poppers, whether oil or dry poppers. A hood is best for collecting the humid air. Air conditioning and humidity control usually are too costly for effective use in the popping room, and packaging is better done in a separate area. r Popcorn coming out of a dry popper is very hot and usually contains 34% moisture. The sifter and tumbler allow the corn to cool and dry to 12% moisture by exposure to the ambient air. If the corn is kept at least 20 F (11 C) above the room temperature, it will remain dry and crisp. r The best approach is to quickly package the product while it is more than 20 F (11 C) over the temperature of ambient room air. Popcorn should not be stored before packaging unless it has already dried and can be protected and kept dry by suitable enclosure. r Whenever the relative humidity is over 50%, the packaging area should have humidity control equipment. In the absence of environmental controls, maintaining the popcorn at 20 F (11 C) above room temperature keeps it dry and crisp. Popcorn and other snacks pick up moisture at over 50% relative humidity. The problem is critical at over 70% relative humidity. A 30%45% relative humidity, which is normal in winter-heated areas, allows long-term storage of puffed snack products without packaging protection; 45% is borderline, while 20%30% is safe over a long period of storage.


Protection of the packaged popcorn against gaining moisture must be continued to the sales outlet by appropriate packaging materials, and then for a reasonable time until the consumer opens the package. Seasoned products also need oxygen barriers to protect against oxidation of the oils. Internally enameled metal containers, sealed with appropriate tapes and containing small pouches of desiccant, offer excellent protection but are expensive. Their use is mainly limited to gifts or holiday parties. Where coloring agents are used in snack products, it is desirable to provide light-barrier protection, which can be accomplished by using metallized lm. Although not as effective as foil laminates, metallized polypropylene packaging lms are increasingly used because they are more economical. The pouches can be ushed with nitrogen to remove oxygen, and sealed with a pillow headspace to help cushion fragile products against breakage. The reader is referred to Chapter 22 on packaging materials, and Chapter 23 on snack foods lling and packaging for further details.

Popcorn has not borne as much accusation of junk food as some of the other snacks. In fact, it is often considered a healthy snack. Dentists have

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endorsed salted popcorn as an alternative to a sweet snack. The American Dietetic Association permits popcorn as a bread exchange in weight control diets. In addition, the National Cancer Institute includes popcorn in its list of moderately high sources of ber to help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Dry-popped corn has the same protein, fat, carbohydrate and mineral content per unit weight as natural whole popcorn, except in greater concentration because of moisture loss during popping. Air-popped corn contains about 30 calories per cup, oil-popped corn about 55 calories and lightly buttered popcorn about 90120 calories. On a volume basis, popped popcorn is low in calories, and a high quality source of complex carbohydrates (ber) compared to other snack foods [4].


While North America and most parts of Europe can be considered mature markets, many other parts of the world are only now discovering popcorn. Taste preferences vary from country to country, but caramel corn continues to be a strong seller in most areas. Caramel corn enjoys an image as a healthy food that satises the consumers craving for sweetness, is lling and is a fun product. With savory popcorns, a particular avor is often popular for a while, and consumers then change to a newer avor. Considerable potential exists for continued innovations in avor development and marketing. Starting in the 1980s, movie theaters in the United States began to divide their large auditoriums into several smaller rooms. This was done to give the moviegoer more choices in movies and to enable the concession stand to serve more customers. The average movie theater patron spends as much on snacks at the concession counter as at the ticket booth. Prot dollars from the concession stand exceed those of ticket sales, with 80% of a movie theaters prot coming from cold drinks and popcorn, popcorn being the sales and prot leader. Currently, movie theater attendance is at its highest in 40 years, and the growing number of megaplexes continue to provide fresh popcorn products to the public. Opportunities for selling new high-quality popcorn products through grocery and convenience stores have been demonstrated in recent years by introduction of products like white cheddar cheese popcorn, fat-free caramel popcorn, and gourmet caramel popcorn. Popcorn excels in the gift market relative to other snack foods. Some of the largest manufacturers of popcorn in the United States. ll large decorated gift cans with divided sections of salted popcorn, cheese corn and caramel-coated popcorn. An innovative product example is (compressed) popcorn cakes, patterned after the earlier success of rice cakes as a low-fat snack food. Supermarket sales of popcorn cakes reached $200 million in the United States in 1997. These products offer the advantages of a xed number of calories per cake for

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consumers who count calories, and no shedding of nes as often occurs when handling popped corn. More recently, chocolate, caramel, savory and other avored corn cakes have been introduced, as well as mini-cakes specically promoted as snacks. Improved avor systems, especially for no-fat or low-fat products, and improved packaging systems already shared with the rest of the snack food industry, indicate that increased sales of high-quality ready-to-eat popcorn products is limited only by individual abilities to innovate new products and creative marketing.

1. SF&WB, (June) 1999. State of the industry. Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, 88(6):SI-1-SI-82. 2. SFA, 1987. 50 Years: A Foundation for the Future. Snack Food Association, 1711 King St, Suite One, Alexandria, VA 22314. 3. Matz, S. A., 1993. Snack Food Technology, 3rd edition. AVI Van Nostrand, Reinhold, New York. 4. www.popcorn.org, June 22, 2000, Popcorn Board, Chicago, Illinium.

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Snack Foods of Animal Origin



OR the purpose of this chapter, a snack is a food product that is predominantly

consumed between meals. It is not clear when the practice of eating meals at prescribed times originated, but snacking between meals appears to have been institutionalized in recent times, resulting in a multibillion dollar domestic and international snack food industry. This chapter reviews snacks of animal origin including meat, sh, dairy and egg products. Meat snacks have their origin in meat- and sh-drying practices that were innovated to prevent rapid spoilage. Consumption of meat snack foods has received increased attention as the result of several popular diets that encourage consumption of increased amounts of protein and less carbohydrate. Raw meat consists of approximately 75% water,18% protein,varying amounts of fat (220%), less than 1% minerals and less than 1% carbohydrate. With a pH usually between 5.56.5, raw meat is an ideal substrate for microbial growth. In general, the place of meat in the human diet has been well established as an excellent nutritional source of high-quality protein, B vitamins including vitamin B12 , zinc, bioavailable iron and many micronutrients. A large variety of distinctive dried meat products exists, some of which are listed in Table 15.1. Most meat snacks t into the low-moisture category (water activity below 0.6) or intermediate-moisture category (water activity of 0.90.65) [1]. Lowmoisture meat-like snacks include jerky, dried sh and seafood products, which are stable at room temperature for long periods of time. Intermediate-moisture meat products usually are partially dehydrated to l550% moisture, and contain salt, sugar, or humectants added to further reduce water activity, and mold

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TABLE 15.1.

Intermediate- and Low-Moisture Meat Products.1

Beef jerky Biltong Bunderfleisch Carne de sol Charqui Dendeng giling Fermented sausages Khundi Pastirma Pemmican Prosciuto ham (raw) Sou song Spreck wurst Quanta

Region or Country
North America South Africa Europe South America South America Indonesia Europe Africa Turkey North America Europe China Europe Africa

Partially taken from Reference [3].

inhibitors to prolong shelf life. These products are packaged to reduce development of oxidative rancidity and other avor problems. Generally, they can be stored at room temperature for long periods of time and are eaten without rehydration.


Knowledge of the percent moisture content in a meat product is useful for categorizing its potential for microbial and chemical degradation. However, water activity (A W ) measures availability of water for microbial growth and is a better predictive tool. Some water is bound very tightly to macromolecules in the food and is not available to support microbial growth. Typically, the additional water is loosely bound or free within the food and can be used by microorganisms. Free or loosely bound water vaporizes easily, whereas tightly bound water vaporizes with difculty. Water activity is the ratio of the vapor pressure of the water in the food to that of water alone at the same temperature. Various instruments are available for measuring A W as the relative humidity in the air space of a small container in which a test sample has been allowed to equilibrate. The relationship between the moisture content of a food and water activity is described by a sorption isotherm as shown in Figure 15.1. Sorption isotherms for different foods often have common features; however, each food has a distinctive sorption isotherm for a given temperature. Temperature effects include changes in the physical properties of the product as well as in co-solubilities of the ingredients. Thus, the sorption isotherm for cooked beef is different from cooked beef



Figure 15.1 Representation of sorption isotherm for cooked meat at 70 F (21 C).

containing salt [2]. It can be affected by many factors, including the products composition, process treatments, and by addition of salt, sugar or humectants [3]. Humectants bind to water very tightly and reduce its vaporization and availability to microorganisms for growth. In most meat and sh snack foods, the water content has been greatly reduced so microbial growth is not supported. However, removing moisture is expensive and leads to avor and texture changes. Therefore, it is usually desirable to remove the least amount of water possible while still inhibiting microbial growth. The creation of a shelf-stable meat snack requires the product to be free of bacterial, yeast and mold growth and to have minimal lipid oxidation, non-enzymatic browning and enzyme-catalyzed degradations. Water activity plays an important role in all these processes. The amount of moisture that must be removed from the product to obtain a desired A W can be determined from the appropriate sorption isotherm. Conversely, the water activity of a food product can be measured and used to predict potential problems that may be encountered [4]. Water activities of pure solutions can be estimated mathematically and are related to the percent mole weights of solvent (water) and solutes (dissociated ingredients) present in the mixture, rather than percent ingredient weights.

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Because of complete dissociation in solution, a mole of salt, with a molar weight of 58.44 g, theoretically provides twice the competition for water than a mole of glucose (180.16 g). Similarly, 3 carbon compounds (glycerin and propylene glycol) are more effective per unit weight in reducing A W than monose (6 carbon) sugars like glucose, which, in turn, is more effective than dioses like sucrose with 12 carbons. Prediction becomes more complex when macromolecules like protein in meat and cooked starch from cereal additives are encountered in foods [4]. Strategies for reducing water activity in a meat product include removal of water by dehydration and addition of compounds to bind water tightly in the meat product. The preparation of some meat products includes use of both strategies by adding salts and/or sugars and drying the meat product. Humectants such as glycerol and propylene glycol and other polyhydric alcohols have become common components in intermediate-moisture foods. These compounds reduce the water activity and often improve texture and other properties. Addition of large amounts of salt can create sensory problems, and addition of large amounts of humectants can introduce distinctive sweet avors. The water activity of fresh meat is above 0.99 [5]. Most intermediate-moisture meat products have water activities between 0.65 to 0.90 and contain less that 50% moisture. Low-moisture foods have water activities below 0.60, which corresponds to moisture contents below 15% for many meat products. Safety of intermediate-moisture meat products for human consumption requires that water activity be reduced below that necessary for growth of food-borne pathogens. In general, the water activity of intermediate foods should be reduced below 0.85 to inhibit most pathogenic bacteria, as shown in Table 15.2. However, many molds and yeasts continue to grow at an A W of 0.85 [6,7]. These can be further controlled by the addition of antimycotic compounds such as sorbic acid and potassium sorbate. The general topic of water activity and microbiology of meat drying has been well reviewed by Gailani and Fung [8].

TABLE 15.2.

Approximate Minimum Water Activity ( Aw ) for Microbial Growth.1

Minimum Aw
0.90 0.88 0.80 0.75 0.70 0.60

Most bacteria Most yeasts Most molds Most halophilic bacteria2 Most xerophilic molds3 Extreme limit of osmophilic yeasts and xerophilic molds4
1 2

From References [1, 5, 8, and 21]. Halophilic means high salt tolerant. 3 Xerophilic means low moisture tolerant. 4 Osmophilic means high osmotic pressure tolerant.

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Factors that can alter the shelf life of meat snacks include: heating or cooking steps in the process, reduction of water activity, reduction of pH, addition of preservatives and reduction of the redox potential in the product [3]. Often the pH is lowered using organic acids or glucono-delta-lactone. A heating step can also be a low-temperature pasteurization process. Packaging can reduce the redox potential to inhibit the growth of bacilli and oxidation problems. The addition of nitrite (curing agent) to the product may have some positive effects including stabilization of color and avor components, and some inhibition of microbes. Mold growth can be reduced by smoke treatment of the product, dipping the product in a potassium sorbate solution and vacuum packaging [3].

Preserving strips of meat by drying is one of the earliest food preservation methods and has survived for centuries because it preserves meat while maintaining its nutritional qualities, and desirable avor and texture properties. A publication of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations outlines some common meat preservation techniques [9]. Meat drying is often accompanied by other preservation methodologies like addition of salt and smoke treatment. Jerky includes a variety of products, ranging from intact strips of dried muscle to dried ground and comminuted products. It is expensive compared to other snack foods due to the high cost of meat before drying. Lean raw meat has a water content of approximately 7075%, and the cost per pound of product increases dramatically as water content is reduced during drying. Meat with a high fat content is normally not used for jerky because rendering of fat interferes during the drying process, and also due to sensory and texture problems of the nished product. The USDA Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book [10] states that all jerky products must have a moisture-to-protein ratio (MPR) of 0.75:1 or less, and the meat species or kind must be in the products name. Jerky has a MPR lower than other common meat products such as pepperoni (1.6:1) or dry salami (1.9:1). Jerky products can be cured or uncured, smoked or non-smoked and dried using air or oven drying methods. Additional labeling possibilities exist. For example, a jerky produced from a large piece of beef may be called natural-style beef jerky provided an accompanying explanatory statement such as made from solid pieces of beef is used. A classic method for making beef jerky is to take 50 kg of beef and cut it along the direction of the grain in long strips that are 23 mm thick and 2.5 cm wide. Salt (4%), pepper (0.5%) and other minor ingredients such as soy sauce, garlic and lemon juice are mixed and used to coat the meat strips, which then are placed on wire racks. The meat strips are dried at 175 F (80 C) for about

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25 hours until brittle. The strips are then wrapped in a cloth and stored in a cool place for several days before transferring them to an airtight container at room temperature [11]. Other procedures include immersing cut strips of meat in a cold marinade containing salt, spices and cure agents for several hours. The marinated strips are then rinsed with water and dried in a smoke house at 131 F (55 C) or higher [12]. There are many variations on production of jerky from whole pieces of muscle. Most procedures cut the muscle with the grain and place the meat in a marinade prior to drying. Different spice mixes, cutting geometry, curing and smoking options, and packaging increase the variety of products made. The processing is simple enough that small meat processing plants can produce very distinctive products. Selling shredded jerky in a small round can, similar to that used for some tobacco products, is only one of the interesting packaging practices.


Chunked and formed jerky products are made by mixing and massaging chunks of meat, spices and salt, and placing the mixture in a mold for heat treatment. The resulting solid piece of molded meat is then cut into strips and dried to the same 0.75:1 moisture-to-protein ratio. Jerky can be labeled ground and formed or chopped and formed when made from meat that has been ground or (bowl) chopped as shown in Figure 15.2. The ground or chopped meat is mixed with spices and salt and placed in molds that are heated. After rming, the meat is removed from the mold, cut to the desired shape and dried to the same MPR. Another product, labeled as jerky

Figure 15.2 Flow sheet-ground and formed jerky processing.

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sausage, can be made by mixing ground or chopped meat with spices and salt and stufng it into small-diameter casings. The same MPR of 0.75:1 is required; however, the product may be dried at any stage in the process [10]. Another procedure used to make ground or chopped jerky products involves mixing ground or aked meat with curing agents, spices, salt and phosphates, and placing the mixture in casings that are tempered to 28.5 to 23 F (2 to 5 C). Then, the rmed product is sliced, spread on racks and dried at 55 C or higher to the desired MPR [12].


Ingredients used for formed and sausage jerky products include different species and kinds of meats, salt, spices, curing agents and sometimes binders. If the level of binder (e.g., soy protein concentrate) used is less that 3.5%, the label must list the binder in a qualifying statement. If levels of binder exceed 3.5%, the binder must be reected in the products name. Regulations limit amounts of nitrite and other additives that can be used. Types of meat used to make jerky have included skeletal muscle from domestic and wild animals. A recent study found that jerky made from beef top round had more desirable sensory properties than jerky made from beef hearts or beef tongue [13]. In another study of highly spiced jerky-like products made from beef top round, turkey breast or emu cuts, the naturally lean emu product came out well in comparison [14]. Dried meat products, such as jerky, owe their existence in large part to the fact that, due to low A W , they do not support growth of most microorganisms. However, products can be contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms, introduced by ingredients or during processing, that multiply during the drying process. Although a specied heat treatment is not required in the production of jerky [10], it is recommended that the meat be heated above 160 F (71 C) prior to drying at 131 F (55 C). Many of the safety concerns for jerky products came from home manufacture, where problems may occur in monitoring and maintaining the temperature during drying [15]. Microbiological safety of shelf-stable meat products has been the topic of many reviews [8, 16]. Faith et al. [17] evaluated drying time, temperature and fat content on viability of E. coli 0157:H7 in ground and formed turkey jerky. They identied conditions that would result in a 5-log cycle reduction. Holly [18] inoculated product with Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens, Bacillus subtilis and Salmonella strains, and reported that drying at 131140 F (5560 C) provided a margin of safety against the initial low numbers of pathogens naturally occurring on meat slices. Microbial problems with dried meat products are often the result of organism growth during the drying process. Usually, rod-shaped bacteria are more sensitive to dehydration than cocci, and endospores are largely unaffected.

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Many sausage or imitation-sausage stick products are marketed using proprietary names. The name sausage implies that the meat has been chopped. Long shelf lives of these products are obtained by strategies that can include reducing water activity, lowering pH, adding chemical preservatives and using mild heat steps. Dry-sausage stick products must have MPRs of 1.9:1 or less. The common non-refrigerated, semidry shelf-stable stick products must have MPRs of 3.1:1 or less and pH of 5.0 or less [10]. Other rules apply to other products in this diverse classication of non-refrigerated, semidry shelf-stable sausages [10]. Dry or semidry stick products that do not meet USDA-FSIS definitions for sausages must include ingredient listings on the label. Formulation of a beef stick snack sausage product could include 100 kg beef (lean beef, beef trimmings, ank), 2.5 kg salt, 1.25 kg dextrose, commercial spice blend, nitrite, sodium erythorbate and a commercial lactic acid starter culture. The process shown in Figure 15.3 includes grinding the meat, mixing the ingredients, and stufng into small-diameter edible casings [19]. The product is put in a smoke house for a time and temperature that allows the lactic acid starter culture to reduce the pH to 5.0 or lower before drying the product. The nal step includes heating the product to an internal temperature above 137 F (58 C). Depending on the ingredients and processing, the above product would have a moisture content of less than 50%, a protein content of 24% for a MPR of 2.1, and a pH of less that 5.0. The microbiology of intermediate-moisture meat products is complex. The margins of safety often are not large, and breakdowns in the antimycotic

Figure 15.3 Flow sheet-beef stick snack sausage product processing.

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protection system result in mold growth. Other problems include migration of moisture into the package resulting in spotty areas of mold growth. To a large extent, intermediate-moisture meat products are relatively stable at normal storage temperatures. However, a variety of deleterious chemical reactions can occur, especially at elevated storage temperatures [7]. The rst is oxidation of the unsaturated lipids, which results in rancidity, aggregation of protein, cleavage of protein chains and destruction of vitamins and amino acids. A second common chemical reaction is non-enzymatic browning, which results in formation of dark insoluble products. A third type of reaction can occur when glycerin is used as an ingredient. It can react with many compounds, resulting in protein cross-linking (including collagen) and changes in the myoglobin (red color) spectrum.


A large variety of freeze-dried meats and seafoods is used in shelf-stable products like soup mixes, and so on. Most are not snacks, and are usually rehydrated before consumption. The process for making freeze-dried meat is to rst freeze the meat and then remove the ice as vapor in a vacuum chamber. Dried beef slices are produced by rst curing beef in a solution of salt, sugar and nitrite until the cure solution has completely penetrated the meat. The slices are then rinsed and dried in a smoke house for several days at 90100 F. Dried beef is not cooked and may or may not be smoked [20].


Dehydrated meat bar products are used as components of military and survival rations. A process for making this type of product is to rst reduce the moisture content of the meat by about 90% by freeze drying. The meat is then compressed into bars at pressures about 10,000 psi (69,000 kPa). Then the bar is dried further with radiant heat in a vacuum chamber and packaged in a water-impermeable pouch with an inert atmosphere. Shelf lives of ve years at room temperature have been reported [21].


Biltong is an uncooked dried meat delicacy made in South Africa and elsewhere. It is purchased in sticks or slices, and portions are cut or broken off and eaten as a snack. In making the product, fresh meat is cut in long strips with the grain and placed in brine or dry salted. Besides sodium chloride, other brine components may include spices, sugar, vinegar, nitrate-nitrite cures and preservatives such as potassium sorbate (0.1%) or boric acid. The meat is left in the

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brine for several hours, then dipped in a hot water-vinegar solution and nally air dried at room temperature for 12 weeks. The nal product has a pH of about 5.5, moisture content of approximately 25%, water activity of 0.650.85 and salt content of about 6%. A recipe for making biltong is to slice 100 kg of lean meat and rub in 4 kg salt and spices (0.06 kg nitrite, 0.12 kg chilies, 0.38 kg pepper), refrigerate, let the cure develop for 18 hours and then dry in a low-moisture atmosphere [11]. Biltong, like other low-moisture dried meat products, is stable at room temperature. The major problem with biltong is that salmonella can survive for a long time in uncooked meat products. Therefore, it is important to use meat with a low initial microbial load, sanitary manufacturing practices and to rapidly reduce water activity during the drying procedure.


Pastirma is a salted dried beef product enjoyed in Turkey and other Mideastern countries. Meat from the hind quarters of older beef animals is cut into 5060 cm long strips with a diameter less than 5 cm. Salt containing 0.02% potassium nitrate is used to cover the strips, which are then placed in a pile at room temperature for a day. The strips are then turned, salted and stored for another day. Then they are washed and dried for days at room temperature. After drying, the strips are put in a pile and pressed with heavy weights for 12 hr. The meat strips are then dried, piled and pressed again with heavy weights before being dried for 510 days at room temperature. The dried meat is covered with a paste that contains ground fresh garlic and other spices. Then the paste-covered strips are stored in a pile for a day, and hung and dried for an additional 512 days before distribution. The nished product has a pH of about 5.5, salt content of approximately 6%, water activity of approximately 0.88 and water content close to 35% [3].


The category of Chinese dried meat products includes some produced by several techniques [3]. One type of product consists of meat cubes or strips. To prepare it, chunks of beef, pork or chicken are cooked with addition of water until tender and cut into strips or cubes. Sugar, soy sauce, monosodium glutamate and spices are added to the liquid in which the meat was cooked, and the meat-sauce mixture heated over low heat until almost dry. The meat pieces are then placed on racks for several hours at 122140 F (5060 C) until about 50% of the original meat weight has been lost. The product can be stored at room temperature for several months and has a water activity of about 0.7. The product has a pH about 6.0 and contains 35% salt, 1015% water and sugar in excess of 20%.



A slightly different type of Chinese product is referred to as shredded pork, pork oss, or Sou Song. Lean pork tissue is cut with the grain and cooked in an equal amount of water until soft. After the meat is removed, the cooking liquid is evaporated to 10% of its volume, and sugar, salt, soy sauce, wine, monosodium glutamate and spices are added to the liquid. The meat pieces are mashed, separated into bers and added to the prepared liquid. Low heat is applied until the liquid has evaporated, and the stirring continued for an additional hour at about 85 C until dry (A W 0.6). If a crisp product ( A W of about 0.4) is desired, 20% vegetable oil is added and the product stirred over low heat until a golden brown color is obtained [3].

Pemmican is a dried meat and fat product that was initially produced by American Indians [22]. Its taste is not outstanding, but the product has a very high caloric density, provides all nutritional advantages of meat and is a method of preserving meat. Pemmican was made by rst heat drying meat (often buffalo) and then pounding it into small fragments. The fragmented meat was then mixed with animal fat and avor agents. The dried meat-fat mixture was originally stored in animal skin bags until eaten. There was a commercial market for pemmican as late as the 1870s. Since that time, it has been a specialty item used as survival rations by explorers, and was included in some military rations. (Armour and Company made pemmican from 1906 to 1954.) There was much variation in pemmican recipes, but a product could contain 64% dried meat, 35% fat and 1% salt [22].


Pork rinds have been a small niche market in the U.S. snack food industry, but are showing surprising growth. Sales grew by 16% in the year ending December 31, 1998 [23,24]. Pork rinds are sold in small bags in convenience stores and a variety of other locations, including grocery stores, vending machines, and so on. There are two parts to the industry: (1) making pork rind pellets; and (2) making pork rinds from the pellets. Pork rind pellets are made from raw pork skins, with often only the belly and fat back portion skins used. Other competing uses for pork skins include the gelatin and the leather industries. After the skin is removed from the carcass, it can be dipped for 30 seconds in a brine at 212 F [25]. The skin is then cut into small squares and rendered for 12 hours at approximately 230240 F in vats of lard to remove fat and water. The squares of skin are agitated and kept submersed during the rendering process. After rendering, the pieces of skin will have decreased in size about 50%. The resulting defatted, dehydrated pieces of

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skin (pellets) are bagged and stored frozen. The quality of the pellets can be monitored by watching changes in the peroxide value of the fat. Pork rinds are made by rst rehydrating the pellets in a avored aqueous solution, followed by cooking with agitation for approximately 1 minute in fat at 400425 F. During this frying step, the pellets expand (pop) to form a light-density product that can oat. Rendered pork fat is often used for frying. The rinds are then separated from the oil, and avorings such as barbecue, hot pepper or cheese may be added. The expanded snack can be air-dried to a brittle-hard texture. Packaging is important to avoid crushing of the product. Fat stability can be lengthened by using antioxidants and modied atmosphere in the package. Quality issues include a lack of size uniformity, texture and color uniformity, degree of expansion and variation in composition. A typical pork rind product contains approximately 70% protein and 30% fat [25]. Pork cracklings are shelf-stable products made from rendered fatty tissues. The process involves frying out (rendering) the fat from pieces of pork fat. The protein-connective tissue matrix left after the fat is removed are the cracklings. The pork skin must be removed before rendering the fatty tissue or the presence of the skin descriptively noted on the label [10]. Cracklings are consumed as a snack food or used as a condiment.


Meat can be used as an ingredient to make cereal-based extruded snacks, although it is not an ideal ingredient because of its high moisture and fat content. Studies to optimize conditions and formulas have been conducted using a starch source, soy isolate, salt, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and a pork or beef slurry at the 20% level [26]. Acceptable products, with a bland avor and light color, were produced. The use of lower-cost meat sources, including beef heart and pork shank trimmings, have also been evaluated. Other studies have examined the properties of extruded raw beef blended with defatted soy our and amylose cornstarch [27], and properties of extruded meat and potato our products [28]. A patent for an interesting expanded meat chip product has been described [29]. Ground or chopped meat is mixed with water, heated to 212 F (100 C) and combined with a mix of corn and potato starch to form a dough. The dough is cooked under pressure, cooled, and held for 812 hours before slicing. The slices are fried in hot oil at 400 F (220 C), resulting in an expanded chip.


Small amounts of sh, shrimp and other shellsh mince have been mixed with starch and used to produce crisp expanded snacks. The rst step in most processes is to form a dough from starch, water, sh mince and salt. The dough

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is heated to gelatinize the starch, sliced and dried. The dried slices are expanded in an oven or by frying [30]. Fat rancidity is a problem for these products, and use of antioxidants is common. Large varieties of these snacks are common in Asian markets.


Marination of meat has been used to improve meat tenderness and impart desirable avor characteristics. Several types of marinades exist, with acidic formulations common. After meat is kept in an acidic marinade for sufcient time, the marinade penetrates to the center of the product, resulting in a lowering of meat pH [31]. The product can become shelf stable if the pH drop is sufcient. Different types of cooked sausages have been packed in hot vinegar solutions of approximately 5% acetic acid plus salt and spices. The sausages come to an equilibrium with the vinegar solution in several days, resulting in lowering the pH inside the sausage and a weight gain of approximately 25%. Sausage types used for pickling include small individual frankfurter-like sausages, pieces of coarse-ground sausages and articially colored (often red) small sausages. These products have good shelf life in the vinegar solutions. USDA regulations regarding sausages in vinegar require a minimum of 4 g of acetic acid per 100 cubic cm of product [10]. The vinegar pickle must completely cover the sausages, and pH maximum is 4.5. Pickled sausages and meat products are available in sealed glass and metal containers and consumed as snacks and as appetizers. Another pickled product consumed as a snack is pickled pigs feet. Several processes for pickling pigs feed are described in Matz [25].


Some cheeses, with low moisture and very high salt content, are shelf stable but are not commonly used as snacks. Some small snack packages of cheddar, processed, and mozzarella (string cheese) are intended for eating as snacks, but usually require refrigeration. Other shelf-stable cheese-like products and spreads are packaged with or between crackers. Some puddings and dessert products contain signicant quantities of dairy components and are packaged in individual shelf-stable portions utilizing sterile processing and packaging procedure. Small dried balls of yogurt, stable at room temperature, are used as snacks in Central Asia and other parts of the world. The snack food industry uses dairy products mostly as ingredients. They include: skim milk powder, milk solids, casein, dried whey, spray-dried yogurt, cheese powders and enzyme-modied derivatives of cream and cheese [32]. Powdered cheese is a common snack food ingredient and coating for a large

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variety of snacks. Dehydrated and ground cheese products are available for these purposes, but use of spray-dried products consisting of some cheese plus dried buttermilk, powdered whey, color and avor components is more common [25]. Eggs are not common domestic snack foods. An egg snack that has lost popularity is pickled eggs. The process for making pickled eggs is to hard boil chicken or quail eggs, which are then covered with a vinegar solution containing spices. The low pH results in a shelf-stable product.


There are many dried and smoked sh and seafood snack products throughout the world. Many of these are salted for periods ranging from minutes to weeks [33]. Three primary salting methods are used: (1) a solid salt rub that extracts the moisture, which is drained away from the product; (2) a salt pickle, where the sh remains in contact with the extracted moisture; and (3) brining, where the sh is soaked in a concentrated salt solution for specied length of time. Smoking of sh and seafood is used to impart avor, provide antioxidant properties and inhibit microbes. Three general methods are used for smoking sh and seafood products: (1) cold smoking, where the temperature is approximately 86 F (30 C); (2) hot smoking, where the sh is cooked during the smoking operation and the temperature often is in the 131167 F (5575 C) range; and (3) smoke drying, where the sh is cooked and dried. Usually, products originating in Europe are brined before smoking, while products from Africa often are not brined but sometimes air dried prior to smoking [33]. Fish can be dried using many procedures, from hanging and drying in the air to using commercial drying equipment. Air drying at ambient temperature usually can be accomplished within 3 to 10 days, provided temperature and humidity conditions are appropriate. Care must be taken to avoid a crusting (case hardening) on the surface of the esh which will inhibit moisture escape from the interior esh.


Dried sh consumed as snacks include: anchovies, sardines, herring, mackerel, saury, sand eel, pout and pieces of the llet from larger sh. Lean sh are usually used to reduce oxidative rancidity problems. Dried shellsh snacks include: shrimp, clams, mollusks and squid [30]. The largest variety of small dried sh products is found in Japan. The small sh are dried whole, split dried or pierce dried, and can be salted or nonsalted. The salting of sh can be done using the dry salting procedure (20 to 30% salt overnight) or soaking in a 1015% brine for 4 to 8 hours. Drying procedures include drying at high temperature, or partial drying to 4448% moisture, plus salt curing and smoking.

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A well-known specialty from India is Bombay duck, which is dried small bumnaloe sh. During drying, the bumnaloe loses its sh avor and develops a unique roasted oil avor. The production of avored dried sh, which are made from small and medium-size sardines, saury, mackerel, at sh and sea bream is a Japanese specialty. The sh are gutted and seasoned for several hours with a combination of soy sauce, sugar, sake and monosodium glutamate, and then dried. Clams and squid are also seasoned and dried [30]. A dried sh oss or shredded sh product is consumed in parts of Asia as a snack food. This product is made by soaking sh in a brine, followed by cooking and deboning. The deboned sh is pressed to remove moisture and heated to further reduce the moisture content to approximately 25%. The dried sh muscle is then shredded into bers that are mixed with oil and spices and roasted. Another snack, found at times in North America and Europe, is minced white sh that has been roller dried. Dried cod that has been mechanically softened is available in small snack packages in Nordic countries. Dried shrimp and squid snacks are common in many parts of Asia. In Japan and Southeast Asia, a shrimp snack product is made by boiling shrimp in a 2% brine for 30 minutes, followed by peeling and drying. Other snack items include dried squid, dried herring, gray mullet roe and fried sh bladders [30].


Pickled herring is a common snack and appetizer, with a 17 to 25% fat content, made from herring. The classic processes involve aging salted herring in barrels for 6 to 24 months at 39.253.6 F (412 C). Small pieces of llet are then put in glass jars with vinegar and spices. Faster processes delete the aging and marinate the herring in the jar. Shelf-life concerns may occur, depending on the procedure used, and the product is usually refrigerated. Anchovies are made from spat in the Nordic countries and anchovy in the Mediterranean countries. Whole sh are packed in containers with salt, sugar and spices and stored at 15 to 20 C for ripening. After ripening, the sh are lleted and packed in cans with an acidied brine marinade. Other marinated snack products include shrimp, eel, and oysters [30]. The process for making a canned oyster product is to mix raw oysters with 3 to 6% salt and boil. They are then steamed and smoked for 20 to 40 minutes and put in an oil before the canning process. Canned smoked clams are made by a similar process.

1. Cassens R. G., 1994. Meat Preservation. Food and Nutrition Press, Trumbull, Connecticut, pp. 6871.

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2. Iglesias, H. A. and J. Chirife, 1982. Handbook of Food Isotherms: Water Sorption Parameters for Food and Food Components. Academic Press, New York, pp. 3135. 3. Leistner, L., 1987. Shelf-stable products and intermediate moisture foods based on meat. In Water Activity: Theory and Applications to Food. L. B. Rockland and L. R. Beuchat eds. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, pp. 295327. 4. Bone, D. P., 1987. Practical applications of water activity and moisture relations in food. In Water Activity: Theory and Applications to Food. L. B. Rockland and L. R. Beuchat, eds. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, pp. 369395. 5. Romans, J. R., W. J. Costello, C. W. Carlson, M. L. Greaser, and K. W. Jones, 1994. The Meat We Eat. 13th edition. Interstate Publishers, Danville, Illinois, pp. 710765. 6. Ledward, D. A., 1981. Intermediate moisture meats. In Developments in Meat Science2. R. Lawrie, ed. Applied Science Publishers, London, pp. 159194. 7. Ledward, D. A., 1983. Novel intermediate moisture meat products. In Properties of Water in Food. D. Simatos and J. L. Multon, eds. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 447463. 8. Gailani, M. B. and D. Y. C. Fung, 1986. Critical review of water activity and microbiology of dried meats. CRC Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr., 25:159183. 9. FAO, 1990. Manual of Simple Methods of Meat Preservation. FAO Animal Production and Health Paper, No. 79. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome. 10. USDA, 1996. Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book. United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. (August), pp. 107175. 11. Ocherman, H. W., 1989. Sausage and Processed Meat Formulations. AVI-Van Nostrand, Reinhold, New York, pp. 2728, 265266. 12. Davis, J. M., 1990. Meat based snack foods. In Snack Foods. R. G. Booth, ed. AVI-Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, pp. 205224. 13. Miller, M. F., J. T. Keeton, H. R. Cross, R. Leu, F. Gomez, and J. J. Wilson, 1988. Evaluation of physical and sensory properties of jerky processed from beef, heart and tongue. J. Food Qual., 11:6370. 14. Carr, M. A., M. F. Miller, D. R. Daniel, C. E. Yarbrough, J. D. Petrosky, and L. D. Thompson, 1997. Evaluation of the physical, chemical and sensory properties of jerky processed from emu, beef and turkey. J. Food Qual., 20:419425. 15. Buege, D. and J. Luchansky, 1999. Ensuring the safety of home-prepared jerky. Meat and Poultry, 25(2):5657. 16. Tompkin, R. B., 1986. Microbiology of ready-to-eat meat and poultry products. Advances in Meat Research, 2:89121. 17. Faith, N. G., N. S. Le-Coutour, M. B. Alvarenga, M. Calicioglu, D. R. Buege, and J. B. Luchansky, 1998, Viability of Escherichia coli 0157:H7 in ground and formed beef jerky prepared at levels of 5 and 20% fat and dried at 53, 57, 63 or 68 degree C in a home-style dehydrator. Int. J. Food Microbiol., 41:213221. 18. Holly, R. A., 1985. Beef jerky: Viability of food-poisoning microorganisms on jerky during its manufacturing and storage. Journal of Food Protection, 48:100106. 19. Long, L., S. L. Komarik, and D. K. Tressler, 1981. Food Product Formulary, Volume 1: Meat, Poultry, Fish, Shellsh. AVI Publishing Co., Westport, Connecticut, pp. 3758. 20. Pearson, A. M. and T. A. Gillet, 1996. Processed Meats. 3rd edition. Chapman Hall, New York, pp. 351353. 21. Varnam, A. H. and J. P. Sutherland, 1995. Meat and Meat Products. Chapman Hall, London, pp. 38741.

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22. Binkert, E. F., O. E. Kolari, and C. Tracy, 1976. Pemmican. In 29th Annual Reciprocal Meat Conference of the American Meat Science Association, pp. 3753. 23. McMabon, T., 1997. Living high off the hog. Snackworld, 54(11):1214. 24. Snack Food Association, 1999. Salted snacks: Pork rinds. Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, June, pp. S152. 25. Matz, S. A., 1993. Snack Food Technology. 3rd edition. Avi-Van Nostrand, New York, pp. 3950 and 225234. 26. Thomas, L., P. Bechtel, and R.Villota, 1989. Effects of Composition and Process Parameters on Twin-Screw Extrusion of Expanded Meat-Based Products. 1989 Annual Meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists. Abstract No. 118. 27. Park, J., K. S. Rhee, B. K. Kim, and K. C. Rhee, 1993. Single-screw extrusion of defatted soy our, corn starch and raw beef blends. J. Food Sci., 58:920. 28. McKee, L. H., E. E. Ray, M. Remmenga, and J. Christopher, 1995. Quality evaluation of chileavored, jerky-type extruded products from meat and potato our. J. Food Sci., 60:587591. 29. Karmas, E., 1976. Processed Meat Technology. Noyes Data Corporation, Park Ridge, New Jersey, pp. 275276, 308324. 30. Nielsen, J. and A. Bruun, 1990. Fish snacks and shellsh snacks. In Snack Food. R. G. Booth, ed. Avi-Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, pp. 183203. 31. Gault, N. F. S., 1991. Marinated meat. In Meat Science5. Applied Science Publishers, London, pp. 191246. 32. Robinson, R. K., 1990. Snack foods of dairy origin. In Snack Food. R. G. Booth, ed. AVI-Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, pp. 159182. 33. Poulter, R. G., 1988. Processing and storage of traditional dried and smoked sh products. In Fish Smoking and Drying. J. R. Burt, ed. Elsevier Science Publishers, London, pp. 8590.

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Snack Food Seasonings



buy more than $6.5 billion worth of avored salty snacks in the United States annually. This is an incredibly competitive business where small regional chippers and national snack food giants go toe to toe in competing for a share of the snacking consumers money. Americans are snacking more than ever before. From 1993 to 1998, the percentage of adults who eat three meals a day without snacking between meals decreased from 33% to 24%. Today, more than 50% of Americans eat less than three meals per day and snack once or twice between meals. There is a growing population of Americans who snack throughout the day with no sitdown meals at all. It should be no surprise that this translates into big opportunities for snack companies. However, snack consumers are demanding. They want variety and many options. It is up to the snack food companies to provide new seasonings for chips to keep snackers interested and coming back for more. From cheese to barbecue (BBQ) to sour cream and onion, the average person consumes 8 pounds of avored chips, pretzels, popcorn, nuts and meat snacks per year. Since the mid-1980s, avor line extensions have fueled growth for many snack food producers. A reason for this is the huge expense associated with development, commercialization and marketing of new snack food brands. Developing a new snack brand is difcult. Manufacturers must identify how the new brand will be different from current brands. Shapes must be identied and tested. Texture and thickness must be evaluated. New equipment and ingredients may have to be purchased. In addition, advertising budgets must be increased to inform consumers about the new brand and persuade them to buy it.

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On the other hand, a avor extension of a line uses the same production equipment and brand name as existing products. Development time is shortened to the time spent formulating and testing the new seasoning. Consumers are already familiar with the brand and its benets. A new avor is easier to try and accept than a new brand. Line extensions allow the snack manufacturer to have a portfolio of products that appeal to a broad range of consumers at lower cost. Each avor can be used to extend the reach of the brand. Snack food companies may launch a new brand once every ve years, but launch new avors each year. Historically, the most popular avors for salty snack seasonings have been Cheese, BBQ, Sour Cream and Onion, and Ranch. These four seasonings form the basis for the avor portfolios of most snack food brands. As a result, consumers are very familiar with the taste proles of these seasonings and readily accept them on almost any snack product. A Nacho Cheese seasoning developed for tortilla chips may taste just as good on potato chips, or a Sour Cream and Onion developed for potato chips may be a great new avor for corn chips. Many snack food companies include two or more of these avor proles in each new brand they introduce. The challenge for many snack food companies is deciding on the seasoning to develop after the Big Four. Since avor line extensions are a major source of growth, snack companies are always looking for the next great-selling new snack avor. The new avor may be a replacement for BBQ, Cheese, Sour Cream and Onion or Ranch, but is just as likely to be a reformulation of the current avor with enhancements to make the seasoning more in accord with current taste trends. For example, BBQ seasonings developed in the mid-1960s were typically hickory smoke type with high levels of torula yeast, paprika and spices. In the late 1980s, many companies reformulated their BBQ seasonings to switch from hickory smoke to mesquite smoke and made the avor much sweeter by introducing sugar, dextrose, or honey. In the 1990s, many BBQ formulas were adjusted to be spicier with more red pepper and more acidity. Similar evolutions have occurred for each of the classic seasoning types over the last 20 years, with each prole changing slightly to match the changing tastes of the snack consumer. Although the classical seasonings have evolved gradually over time, at least one new avor is introduced each year as a contestant for the next classic snack avor that will withstand the test of time. Successful new snack seasonings often use familiar avors and combine them in creative ways. A review of the top-selling avored snack food products shows that many of the same ingredients are used. Cheese powder, tomato powder, onion and garlic appear in almost every ingredients statement. These ingredients appear in seasoning formulas like BBQ, nacho cheese, pizza, taco, chili cheese, or ranch. The key to successful seasoning development is creating variety in new seasonings by combining well-known ingredients in unique ways.



Before discussing the formulation of seasonings, it is necessary to develop an understanding of the ingredients and their functions. As an example, one topselling snack has the following long ingredients statement, arranged in order of diminishing content:
Salt, sugar, maltodextrin, dextrose, monosodium glutamate, onion powder, tomato powder, brown sugar, sour cream powder, molasses, cheddar cheese powder, Monterey Jack cheese powder, garlic powder, spices, sodium diacetate, natural and articial avors, whey, articial colors, natural hickory smoke avor, worcestershire sauce powder, dehydrated bell pepper, hydrolyzed proteins, beef stock, autolyzed yeast, lactic acid, citric acid, vinegar, tamarind, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, and yeast extract.

Seasoning manufacturers do not construct complicated ingredient declarations to confuse the competition, but rather to create great-tasting snacks with well-balanced avor and appetizing visual appeal. To accomplish this, seasoning formulators develop complex blends of ingredients that provide multiple avor sensations. Each ingredient in the formula serves a specic function to help achieve avor and appearance characteristics that attract consumers. Some ingredients provide the characterizing avor of the seasoning. The smoke, worcestershire, and natural and articial avors are the primary characterizing avors in the seasoning, and part of the initial avor burst. They are tasted rst as the top note of the seasoning and also are part of the aftertaste. Other ingredients affect the mouth feel or texture of the seasoning. Sour cream powder, cheddar cheese powder, or Monterey Jack cheese powder are not present to introduce characterizing dairy avors that the consumer will taste and recognize, but to give a pleasant fatty mouth feel to the seasoning. The fattiness of these ingredients helps blend the harshness of the hickory smoke and meaty avors with the background avors of onion, garlic and tomato to provide a smooth transition from taste to taste. Numerous avor enhancers, including monosodium glutamate (MSG), disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, autolyzed yeast and salt, are in the formula. These enhance the overall avor impact of the seasoning and give a mouth-watering sensation that attracts the consumer to eat more. Some snack producers avoid use of avor enhancers like these to meet consumer demands for so-called clean labels. But for seasoning formulators, this class of ingredients is very important in the development of great-tasting salty snack products. In addition to enhancing avor, ingredients are present to stimulate the basic taste sensations of sweet, salty, bitter and sour. For example, dextrose, brown sugar and molasses provide rich, sweet brown avors to the seasoning. Molasses, tamarind, some spices and yeasts, provide a subtle bitterness to the formula. A complex acid prole results from the addition of sodium diacetate,

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lactic acid, vinegar and/or citric acid. The acid complex enhances the sweet brown avors described previously. The selected ingredients determine how the avor releases, what the aftertaste will be, and whether the seasoning can be applied evenly. Grouping the ingredients of a seasoning into salt, llers, spray-dried dairy and vegetable powders, spices, compounded avors, avor enhancers, sweeteners, acids, colors and processing aids helps to develop an understanding of how seasonings are formulated for salty snacks.

2.1. SALT
Salt is a key ingredient in salty snack seasonings. The main purpose of salt is to potentiate the overall avor of the seasoning. Without salt, it would have a bland avor and lack intensity. The most common salt used in formulating seasonings is our salt, a ne granular material with a particle-size distribution of 96% minimum through a U.S. 80 mesh (178 micron) screen. Granulated salt, ne ake salt, or pretzel salt may be used for snacks where only salt is added, but are not recommended for seasoning blends. The relatively larger salt particles have a tendency to adhere to the snack base differently than the other ne-particle-size ingredients in the blend, and often result in excessive salt falloff or uneven distribution of the seasoning Salt typically is used in formulas at 1525%, if the seasoning is applied to the nished product at 58%. The exact salt level for a seasoning should be determined through consumer testing. It is important to remember that salt also is present in many spray-dried dairy powders, hydrolyzed vegetable proteins (HVP), autolyzed yeast extracts and in some compounded avors. Also, salt perception is enhanced by the use of monosodium glutamate, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate and some organic acids. These factors should be considered when adjustments are made to the salt level.

The llers used in seasoning blends typically are low-cost, commodity products, bland in avor. The most common llers are: maltodextrin, corn syrup solids, wheat our, corn our and whey. Fillers are used in seasonings at 2040%, depending on the type of seasoning and its level of application to the product. Most seasoning blends are used on snacks at 58%. Formulators use llers to adjust the application level of the seasoning to ensure desired coverage and avor impact. For example, if the overall avor impact of the seasoning is too strong, additional ller may be added to dilute it. If the appearance of the blend on the snack is uneven, one solution may be to increase its application level. But if the seasoning use level is increased, the ller should also be increased to maintain an equivalent avor impact.

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This can be shown for a seasoning which contains, among other things, 20% maltodextrin, 20% added salt and 1% compounded avor.
Maltodextrin Salt Compounded flavor Other ingredients 20.00% 20.00% 1.00% 59.00% 100.00%

The blend was intended to be used at 5% on a snack base but, when applied to chips, although the avor of the seasoning is acceptable, its coverage of the product is uneven. An increase in seasoning application level to correct this is indicated. But if the blend is applied at 7%, the avor will be too strong. Therefore, the ller should be increased to dilute the seasoning. Referring again to the example formula, at 5% use level seasoning, the maltodextrin, salt and compounded avor on the nished product is 1%, 1% and 0.05%, respectively. If increased to 7% without adjustment of llers, the salt content would be 1.4% and the compounded avor 0.07%, a 40% increase of each:
At 7% Use Level on 100 g Chips
1.00 g 1.00 g 0.05 g 2.95 g 5.00 g

Maltodextrin Salt Compounded flavor Other ingredients Total

20.0% 20.0% 1.0% 59.0% 100.0%

At 5% Use Level on 100 g Chips

1.40 g 1.40 g 0.07 g 4.13 g 7.00 g

The objective is to keep the avor impact of the seasoning when used at 7% equal to the avor impact at 5%, and salt and avor in the formula are reduced. The new levels are 14.30% for the salt and 0.70% for the compounded avor. The difference in the formula is added to the maltodextrin.
At 7% Use Level on 100 g Chips
1.00 g 1.00 g 0.05 g 2.95 g 5.00 g

Maltodextrin Salt Compounded flavor Other ingredients Total

26.00% 14.30% 0.70% 59.00% 100.00%

Referring to the previous chart, we see that the levels of avor and salt in the rst formula applied at 5% are now equal to the salt and avor applied at 7%.

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The changes in bland ller will have little impact on the overall avor of the seasoning when applied at 7%.


Cheese powders, sour cream powders, butter powder and buttermilk powder are key ingredients in formulating blends for salty snacks. Their function is to provide mouth feel and avor to the seasoning. Dairy powders are manufactured by spray drying a slurry of cheese, butter, sour cream, or buttermilk, water, starch, emulsier, salt, and sometimes compounded avors. The relatively high level of butterfat in the powders, typically 1550%, makes them valuable to the seasoning formulator. The need for dairy powders in seasonings like Nacho Cheese or Sour Cream and Onion is obvious because the named ingredients, cheese and sour cream, are required for labeling and for avor. However, the use of dairy powders is not as clear in the case of BBQ seasoning. Formulators use dairy powders in this application to provide mouth feel and to help blend all the avors contained in the seasoning. Seasonings without any fat tend to clean up very quickly; even well-formulated avor proles, lacking fat, have this problem. Dairy fat, with a melting point below 100 F (37.8 C), readily melts and coats the mouth during eating. As the fat melts, lipophilic avor chemicals solubilize in the fat, creating a longer-lasting avor sensation in the mouth. The aftertaste of the seasoning can be affected by manipulating the fat-soluble avor components of the formula. This is useful in BBQ seasonings, which have a tendency to be harsh due to the smoky, meaty and vinegary notes present in their formulas. Spray-dried dairy powders should be used in most applications and not just dairy seasonings. Many types of dairy powders are produced for use in the snack industry, and the product for the seasoning should be selected carefully. The dairy powder should have a clean taste without signicant cooked notes. Dairy powders are relatively expensive and are priced according to cost of the starting material used, the level of butterfat in the nished powder, and whether the product is kosher or not. Dairy powders are used in seasonings at levels of 520%. At low levels, they help smooth out the avor, especially if the seasoning has a high level of avors and spices. At high levels, they make a signicant contribution to the mouth feel and avor of the seasoning.


Onion powder, garlic powder and chili pepper are the most common vegetable powders used in seasonings. They are produced by drying a slurry of the vegetable, usually by heat and vacuum, to a moisture content of less than 5%. The resulting powders are relatively inexpensive and concentrated in avor. Toasted

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or roasted versions of onion or garlic powders offer distinctively different avor proles. Onion or garlic appears in almost every snack seasoning currently sold. They bring depth to the middle part of the seasonings avor prole. The initial avor of a seasoning comes from compounded avors that dissolve rapidly and release avor quickly. After the initial burst of avor, the next avor perceived comes from ingredients that solubilize slower. Onion and garlic powders release avor slower than spray-dried avors and therefore are used to ll the middle of the taste experience. The initial avor release can be intense in seasonings using only compounded avors, but the avor dissipates quickly. Addition of onion or garlic powder to the formula makes the taste prole more complex and prolongs the taste experience. Both ingredients are versatile in most applications, and can also be used at low levels to help sustain the avor impact in cheese seasonings. However, these powders are generally higher in yeast, mold and standard plate count than most other ingredients used in seasonings, a factor to consider if the blend is used in microbially sensitive applications. Onion powder is typically used at 110% in seasonings, and garlic powder at lower levels, usually 0.55%.

Herbs and spices were the primary source of added avor in seasonings for many years. The rst snack seasoning depended on avors contributed by spices such as black pepper, chili powder, mustard our, oregano, basil and cumin. In some cases, the spices were ground to ne powders to blend easily with the salt, garlic and onion powders. Some spices, like parsley, oregano and basil, were used whole to contribute to the appearance of the seasoning as well as the avor. Spices have always been an important part of seasonings, and familiarity with avor and appearance of common products is essential for any seasoning formulator. Formulators should be able to recognize by taste and appearance: anise, basil, black pepper, celery seed, chili pepper, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, marjoram, mace, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme and turmeric. All are commonly used in seasonings for snacks. Spices, like onion and garlic, add depth to the avor prole of a seasoning. Ground spices are concentrated in avor, which releases slowly during the eating experience and lasts a long time, like onion and garlic. Whole spices are additionally visually appetizing. More recently, spice extracts (essential oils or oleoresins), were added to seasonings for more avor impact. Essential oils or oleoresin generally are spray dried, which accelerates the avor release to be more like compounded avors. Encapsulation increases shelf stability. Generally, ground spices are used at 0.252.00% in seasonings. Spice extracts, spray-dried essential oil, or encapsulated spices are generally sold as 5, 10

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or 25 replacers for ground or whole spices. Spices are expensive ingredients on a per pound basis, ranging from $2.00 to $5.00 per pound, but their strength makes them cost effective for use in seasonings in most applications. Like onion and garlic powders, spices have higher yeast, mold and standard plate counts than most other seasoning ingredients. Spices are generally treated with ethylene oxide or irradiation to reduce microbiological risk. The use of essential oils or oleoresins in place of whole or ground spices is a sound alternative because of the extremely low microbial risk after the extraction process.


In the last 10 years, compounded avors have replaced spices as the primary contributors to taste in seasonings. The need for a wider range of avor proles, and stronger-avored seasonings, has led to the shift. Ground spices were not sufciently stable over the shelf life of snacks, and some natural sources became too expensive for widespread use. Consumer testing indicated the need for stronger cheese avors and more authentic dairy avors, but spray-dried dairy powders no longer met the requirements. Consequently, formulators began incorporating compounded avors into seasonings to satisfy the changing marketplace. Advances in avor technology enabled the development of a wide range of shelf-stable, high-impact avors that are cost-effective for use in seasonings. Spray-dried or encapsulated avors are used in most blends. Compounded avors are used in seasoning formulas at 0.15.00%, depending on the application. Costs are $3.0010.00 per pound and are highly dependent on whether the components are natural or articial. Flavor selection has become the most important step in developing a seasoning. The potential compounded avor should be screened in the application when considered. Smelling the bottle and nger tasting are not acceptable alternatives. Each potential avor should be evaluated at two use levels, for example, the high and low levels of the usage range suggested on the container. This is necessary to see the effect of avor level on the overall avor of the seasoning. A range of avor proles should be considered before making the nal selection. If the avor is a butter avor, then natural, natural and articial, and articial versions should be evaluated as well as avors high in diacetyl and without diacetyl. Fresh butter proles should be screened versus melted butter proles. It is best to understand all possible source options for the avor in question and how they interact with other seasoning ingredients and the base before making the nal selection.


Like salt, avor enhancers are key ingredients in seasoning. The most common avor enhancers are monosodium glutamate, autolyzed yeast, disodium

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inosinate, disodium guanylate and hydrolyzed vegetable protein. Each contains a high level of 3 and 5 nucleotides, which are known to potentiate savory avors in seasonings. Flavor potentiation is important to the overall taste of the seasoning. Without one or more of these ingredients, the seasoning may have a bland or at taste. A mouth-watering response, resulting from the addition of nucleotides to the seasoning, will benet all aspects of the avor prole. Use levels for avor enhancers vary according to the seasoning prole, but starting levels are: monosodium glutamate, 15%, autolyzed yeast extract, 15%, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate, 0.010.05% and hydrolyzed vegetable protein, 15%. Costs vary for these ingredients with MSG and HVP the lowest cost at $1.00$3.00 per pound, to disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate at about $13.00 per pound. Autolyzed yeast extract is priced at $2.00$6.00 per pound.

Sugar, brown sugar, dehydrated honey solids, spray-dried molasses, dextrose and fructose are the most common sweeteners used in seasonings. As with all seasoning ingredients, the formulator should select sweeteners with small particle sizes to be compatible with the other ingredients in the blend. Each of the sweeteners gives a slightly different avor to the formulation. Sugar, brown sugar and molasses give similar sweetness perceptions. Honey solids and fructose are similar in sweetness prole. Dextrose, when added to the formula, has a mouth-cooling effect and is effectively used in many BBQ formulations. Most sweeteners are inexpensive additions for seasonings. Prices range from $0.25 per pound for sugar up to $0.70 per pound for honey. Sweeteners should be added to seasonings with care because most are hygroscopic and may cause owability problems during the hot summer months. Typically, additional free-ow agents are necessary.

2.9. ACIDS
Citric, lactic, malic and acetic acids are the most common acids used in seasoning formulations. Additionally, the sodium salt of acetic acid, sodium diacetate, may also be used as an acidulant to mimic the avor of vinegar.

2.10. COLORS
Color is added to most seasonings by use of articial colors. The most common colors are FD&C alumina lakes including Yellow #5, Yellow #6, Red #40, and Blue #1. Alumina lakes are preferred in seasoning applications because of stability and non-reactivity. The use of pure dyes is not recommended in topical

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seasoning systems. The color dye transfers readily to hands and clothing in the presence of a small amount of moisture and becomes a nuisance in production and nal use by consumers. The lakes are used alone or as blends in seasoning formulations. Almost any color may be made from combinations of these colors. Manufacturers of seasonings have two options for adding colors to formulas: r Add directly to the seasoning blend following the addition of all granular material and any liquids. A blending step usually follows to begin dispersing the color; or r Purchase spray-dried ingredients where colors have been added to the slurry prior to drying. An example is spray-dried cheddar cheese powders with FD&C Yellow #4 and FD&C Yellow #5 added. Cheese powder manufacturers generally offer a normal color version for applications where high levels of the cheese are used and a triple color version for use if lower levels of cheese are added to the seasoning but a signicant level of orange color is desired. The major advantage of adding color directly to the seasoning blend is exibility in customizing. Seasoning manufacturers can quickly adjust color to meet customer needs for reformulation. Advantages of adding colors via spraydried ingredients is uniformity, ease of handling and weighing and avoidance of ashing of individual non-lake colors in the seasoning. Both methods of adding articial colors to seasonings are used. Extractives of paprika and turmeric may also be used for adding color to seasonings. These spice extractives are oil-soluble and must be plated onto salt, sugar or maltodextrin to distribute the color throughout the blend. Annatto can also be used to contribute a yellow or orange color to a seasoning. Caramel color is used to add brown to seasonings. All the colors, with the exception of caramel color, are relatively expensive, priced at $8.00$13.00 per pound. However, use levels are relatively low, resulting in a low-cost contribution to the total price of the seasoning. The FD&C colors are the most stable of the colors and contribute no avor. Extractives of paprika can be light-sensitive and will fade if a stabilized version is not used. Turmeric oleoresin can change color with varying pH ranges. Caramel colors usually contain sultes, which may require declaration on the snack product label.


With the exception of llers and colors, all of the ingredients described thus far contribute to the avor and avor release of the seasoning. An equally important set of ingredients affects processing of the blend. These ingredients are added at different times during blending of the seasoning.

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Once the seasoning is formulated, consideration must be given to the method of its application to the snack product. Often, a tumbler coater is used in which a curtain of seasoning is spread over the snack base, allowing it to adhere to the base. The seasoning must ow freely and not contain agglomerated particles; otherwise, the snack product will appear unevenly coated. Problems from ineffective use of processing aids include excessive seasoning fall-off, or clogging of the equipment and frequent shutdown for cleaning. The most common processing aids are vegetable oil and silicon dioxide. Vegetable oil is used to coat ingredients that are hydrophilic, thus reducing the tendency of these ingredients to absorb moisture. This prevents the ingredients from agglomerating or causing lumps in the blend, which makes even application of the seasoning difcult. The best practice is to add the vegetable oil close after the hydrophilic ingredients in blending order, followed by a blending step of sufcient duration, which allows the oil to coat the material as completely as possible. Vegetable oil is also important if the seasoning blend contains ingredients with large differences in particle-size distribution. Although it is advisable to keep the particles of seasoning formulations small and uniform in size and shape, sometimes larger particles are needed to improve the appearance of the snack, for example, dried parsley in sour cream and onion seasoning. In this case, it is important to have vegetable oil in the blend to facilitate agglomeration of the parsley with the other ingredients. The vegetable oil acts like a glue to hold the parsley in position throughout preparation of the seasoning and prevents its stratication. Once the hydrophilic ingredients are coated with oil, it is necessary to adjust the owability of the seasoning back to its normal operating characteristics. This entails adding a free-ow agent such as silicon dioxide or tricalcium phosphate to the blend. These ingredients have the opposite effect of vegetable oil. They act by coating all particles in the blend with ne powders that resist agglomeration, effectively making the seasoning free owing.

Direct addition of antioxidants to a seasoning formulation is not widely practiced. Incidental addition of antioxidants to oil-soluble ingredients, for example, paprika oleoresin, is more common. Such antioxidants typically are used to protect the raw material during storage, but usually are non-functional in the seasoning. Vitamin E, alpha-tocopherols, extractives of rosemary, and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and/or butylated hydroxy toluene (BHT) were once used in formulations in attempts to preserve seasonings. Now, alternative processing techniques for sensitive materials are often used in place of adding preservatives. Many snack manufacturers advertise their products as preservative-free and seasoning suppliers have responded by omitting addition of antioxidants.

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High-barrier packaging lms and gas ushing of packaged snacks have also eliminated much of the need for antioxidants in seasoning blends.

Seasonings for salty snacks are blends of salt, dairy powders, vegetable powders, avor enhancers, spices, compounded avors, colors and processing aids. When the blend is applied to potato chips, corn chips, tortilla chips or other snack bases, avors in the seasoning, frying oil and the base start to intermingle. Partitioning of avors occur and prevent some from being tasted. Other avors are potentiated over time. With time, the avors smooth together to form the overall avor of the snack food. Allowing seasonings to equilibrate after blending, and allowing the seasoned snack to equilibrate after application, are important steps in evaluating seasonings during development. When starting to develop a seasoning formulation, it is useful to think in terms of building a pyramid. The characterizing avors of the seasoning are at the top of the pyramid. This is the part of the seasoning that is tasted rst, like the sour cream avor in Sour Cream and Onion potato chips, or the robust smoke avor in a mesquite BBQ seasoning for corn chips. The origin of this avor portion is typically compounded avors or spices. These avors are supported by the next level, a foundation of basic commodity materials. In the case of the sour cream avor, the supporting commodity material is generally sour cream powder, but could be non-fat dry milk, buttermilk powder, or cheese powder. In the third level of the pyramid, the commodity materials and avors are enhanced by salt, sweeteners, avor enhancers and acids. The bottom of the pyramid consists of llers, colors and processing aids to complete the seasoning blend.


The rst step is identifying the direction of avor development by asking the following questions:
r Who is the target consumer?

Male or female? Children, teens, adults, or seniors?

r What type of avor does this consumer prefer?

High impact or subtle?

r What is needed to make this avor interesting to the target consumer?

Is an existing avor to be duplicated, or a new avor prole created? By answering these questions, the formulator reduces the development time by focusing on the most highly acceptable ideas about the targeted consumer.

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The questions should not be answerable by too many categories. It is easy to say the product should appeal to everyone. Since this is impossible, it is best practice to focus on a specic segment of total population. Obviously, in all seasoning development projects it is best to target consumers who like to eat salty snacks with avors applied to them. If the seasoning is going to be a BBQ, the product should be tested with consumers who buy BBQ-avored products. Finally, the age group to be targeted should be considered. Many companies target consumers between ages 1335. But snack seasonings that appeal to teens do not necessarily appeal to seniors.


A few basic concepts apply to formulating snack food seasonings:
r The process is trial and error. The formula should begin with typical usage

r r

levels of salt, llers and enhancers, and then be adjusted as needed to suit the snack base and consumer expectations. A usage level of 6% can be assumed for the seasoning initially, with the nal level to be decided after the formula has been tested at several higher and lower levels with consumers. The existence of a product that ts the avor prole under development should be determined. Different products that resemble the avor being developed should be screened. If a match exists, the ingredients listing of the product should be reviewed for ideas for duplicating the overall avor prole of the snack seasoning. Formulation should begin with a cost target in mind, but with enough room left in the cost allowance for subsequent changes in the formula. All the formula constraints should be considered before actual formulation is begun. Does the seasoning need to be kosher? Consist of natural avors? Is MSG allowed?

The best way to describe seasoning formulation techniques is by using an example like development of a sour cream and onion seasoning for potato chips. It is assumed that consumer research has identied the following characteristics about the target customer: r The target is teens and young adults, male and female. r The target customer prefers strong, bold avors. r The target customer eats many of the existing sour cream and onion snacks on the market, but would prefer a new avor prole because current offerings are tired and old fashioned. r The expected usage level for the seasoning is 7%. From the avor prole target, the formulator knows that salt, sour cream and onion are necessary ingredients in the formula. Simply making a blend of

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33% salt, 33% onion and 33% sour cream powder could be the beginning of a seasoning, but the formula would not be balanced. It lacks complexity and would be cost-prohibitive. The formulator must next think about the ingredients needed to balance the avor prole, enhance the avor system and provide visual appeal to the nished product. Initially, several adjustments can be made to the formula based on information available at the beginning of the project. Since the application level for the seasoning will be 7%, the formulator can begin by reducing the level of salt in the formula to 22%. This results in a salt content of 0.07 22, or 1.54% in the nished product. The salt content for most snacks is 1.501.90%. This formula can start on the low side of the range because salt-enhancing ingredients will be added later. Sour cream powder is expensive, selling for $1.50$2.00 per pound, so the formulator reduces the sour cream powder to 20%. At this level, the sour cream powder provides adequate mouth feel and avor to the seasoning blend. The onion powder is very high at 33% in the formula. Keeping in mind that the target consumer prefers high-impact avors, it is still advisable to reduce the level of onion in the seasoning, so the level is changed to 10% for the rst revision. Maltodextrin is added at 48% to return to a 100% formula. The rst seasoning formula looks like the following:
Maltodextrin Salt Sour cream powder Onion powder 48.00% 22.00% 20.00% 10.00% 100.00%

Applying the blend to the potato chip base at 7% use level, the formulator observes good compatibility with the base, but it is still not a complete seasoning. The sour cream impact is too low. The overall avor impact is low, except for the onion. The next step in formulating is to begin increasing the level of sour cream avor without adversely affecting the overall cost of the seasoning. The sour cream avor impact can be enhanced by several methods besides increasing the dehydrated sour cream powder in the formula. Acidity is a key component in delivering impact to dairy seasonings. The formulator can add citric acid and lactic acid to give the impression of more sour cream. The formulator adds 0.5% citric acid and 1.00% lactic acid to increase the overall dairy impact of the seasoning. Another method is to add compounded sour cream avors to the seasoning. Numerous avors are available to t the needed prole. The formulator selects one and adds it to the formula at 0.50%. In the case of sour cream, added sweetness sometimes helps increase the dairy impact. The formulator adds 5% dextrose and 5% non-fat dry milk to the seasoning in an attempt to round out the sour cream avor. The rst revised formula is:

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Maltodextrin Salt Sour cream powder Onion powder Dextrose Non-fat dry milk Lactic acid Citric acid Compounded flavor

36.00% 22.00% 20.00% 10.00% 5.00% 5.00% 1.00% 0.50% 0.50% 100.00%

Applying the seasoning to chips, the formulator can now taste elements of the appropriate sour cream avor and impact, but the seasoning lacks depth and the avor disappears too quickly. Next, the formulator adds 1.00% monosodium glutamate to the seasoning to help potentiate the overall avor prole of the formula. Also, the formulator wants to make the onion part of the prole more complex. One way to do this is to change to toasted onion powder instead of white onion powder, or to add hydrolyzed vegetable protein to make the overall avor meatier in character. The second revised formula is:
Maltodextrin Salt Sour cream powder Toasted onion powder Dextrose Non-fat dry milk Hydrolyzed vegetable protein Lactic acid Monosodium glutamate Citric acid Compounded flavor 33.00% 22.00% 20.00% 10.00% 5.00% 5.00% 2.00% 1.00% 1.00% 0.50% 0.50% 100.00%

At this point, the formula is nearly completed. Only a few variables in the avor prole remain to be optimized in this sour cream and onion seasoning. The formulator now adjusts the key variables up and down to get to the optimized formula. The rst step is to look at the sour cream level of the seasoning. In most consumer tests, responses indicate a need for more sour cream impact. Consumers almost always say they want more dairy impact in the avors used for salty snack seasonings. In this formula, the sour cream impact is affected by the level of the compounded avor, the sour cream powder level, the acid and the level of dextrose. At this stage, changes to the formulation should be bold moves, eliciting a denite response on impact. The revision should clearly be stronger than the previous formula. When impact in a formula is an issue, it is better

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to begin adjusting the avor and acid rather than the sour cream powder level or sweetness. The current levels of sour cream and dextrose in the formula are adequate. A signicant increase in the dehydrated sour cream powder would make the seasoning too expensive, and an increase in the dextrose would not signicantly increase the overall sour cream avor perception. The formulator starts by increasing the level of sour cream avor from 0.5% to 1.00%. The level of acid is also raised by increasing the citric acid to 0.75% and the lactic acid to 2.00%. The third revised formula is:
Maltodextrin Salt Sour cream powder Toasted onion powder Dextrose Non-fat dry milk Hydrolyzed vegetable protein Lactic acid Monosodium glutamate Citric acid Compounded flavor 30.25% 22.00% 20.00% 10.00% 5.00% 5.00% 3.00% 2.00% 1.00% 0.75% 1.00% 100.00%

The onion avor level is rebalanced in the next step. After adjusting the sour cream avor and acid system, the overall onion impact is weaker. Also, the toasted onion powder has slightly less impact than the white onion powder initially used in the formula. The level of toasted onion powder is increased to 15%, and 5% white onion powder is added to the formula. More depth is added to the onion avor by increasing the MSG slightly to 2.00% and increasing the HVP to 3.00%. The fourth revised formula is:
Maltodextrin Salt Sour cream powder Toasted onion powder Onion powder Dextrose Non-fat dry milk Hydrolyzed vegetable protein Lactic acid Monosodium glutamate Citric acid Compounded flavor 19.25% 22.00% 20.00% 15.00% 5.00% 5.00% 5.00% 3.00% 2.00% 2.00% 0.75% 1.00% 100.00%

From a avor standpoint, formulation of the seasoning is complete. However, consumers also eat with their eyes. So the visual appeal of the seasoning blend

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is just as important as the taste. The current seasoning blend has an off-white to beige color and becomes virtually invisible when applied to the potato chips. Consumers generally need a visual signal that the snack food is seasoned and contains added avor. As a result, the next step is to focus on appearance of the seasoning blend. Sour cream and onion seasonings historically have included a green leafy material to give a visual signal that a seasoning has been added to the chips. Looking at other similar food items, like ready-to-eat sour cream dip products, can give assistance in deciding the type of appearance characteristics to be added. In this case, dehydrated green onion, dehydrated parsley, or a fabricated soy particulate with added FD&C colors could be used to improve the appearance of the seasoning. The formulator should evaluate each possibility for use in the formula. For most snack items, dehydrated parsley is the best choice. It is bright green in color and is available in a range of sizes and prices. But parsley or green onion would not be acceptable choices if the nished product were to be exposed to light for prolonged periods. Photo-oxidation is a concern in cases where plant material containing chlorophyll can oxidize the oils to cause off-avors in the seasoning and nished product. In cases where light sensitivity is an issue (like see-through bags), the bits containing color would be the preferred material. Parsley akes are added at 3.00% for visual appeal for the fth revised formula:
Maltodextrin Salt Sour cream powder Toasted onion powder Onion powder Dextrose Non-fat dry milk Parsley flakes Hydrolyzed vegetable protein Lactic acid Monosodium glutamate Citric acid Compounded flavor 16.25% 22.00% 20.00% 15.00% 5.00% 5.00% 5.00% 3.00% 3.00% 2.00% 2.00% 0.75% 1.00% 100.00%

The nal phase in seasoning development is to adjust the formula to facilitate problem-free application to the snack base. There are two parts in this step, protecting hygroscopic materials from excessive water absorption and adding free-ow agent. To protect the formula from excessive water absorption, a liquid vegetable oil is added to the formula. In the sour cream and onion formula being developed, 0.5% vegetable oil is added. Partially hydrogenated soybean oil is commonly used for this purpose. The vegetable oil typically is added in the plating stage of manufacturing the seasoning, usually after the

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addition of salt, MSG, maltodextrin and any other granulated ingredients. A blending step follows the addition of the vegetable oil to adequately spread the oil across the ingredients in the blend. Any hygroscopic materials should be added to the seasoning blend following the vegetable oil. An additional blending step completely coats the hygroscopic materials, forming an effective barrier against moisture absorption. After addition of all the remaining ingredients and a blending step, the free-ow agent is added as the last ingredient. The free-ow agent of choice in most seasoning applications is silicon dioxide, although tricalcium phosphate also is popular. Silicon dioxide is a smallparticle-size, powdery material with a large surface area. When applied to seasoning blends, silicon dioxide coats the ingredients and reduces the tendency for agglomeration. A free-owing seasoning is necessary for even application of the seasoning to the snack base. To complete the sour cream and onion formula, 1.00% silicon dioxide is added:
Maltodextrin Salt Sour cream powder Toasted onion powder Onion powder Dextrose Non-fat dry milk Parsley flakes Hydrolyzed vegetable protein Lactic acid Monosodium glutamate Citric acid Vegetable oil Silicon dioxide Compounded flavor 14.75% 22.00% 20.00% 15.00% 5.00% 5.00% 5.00% 3.00% 3.00% 2.00% 2.00% 0.75% 0.50% 1.00% 1.00% 100.00%

At this point, the basic seasoning formulation work is complete. Additional consumer testing on the use level is an important nal step. The seasoning may be good at 7% use level, but have a higher acceptability with consumers at 8% use level. This is a nal checkpoint with consumers for overall acceptability of the seasoning formulation. Once the formulation work and consumer testing are complete, the formula should be checked for shelf stability. Studies on the seasoning in its packaging material, and on the nished, seasoned, packaged snack product are recommended. These tests will indicate any ingredient interaction or stability problems with the seasoning blend. All shelf life test products should be compared to frozen control, held at 0 F (18 C) or lower for the duration of the test. It is good practice to collect analytical data on the control before starting the test and also on each shelf life sample evaluated. After successful completion of shelf life testing, the new formula is ready for the marketplace.

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The process for developing a seasoning is similar whether it is Sour Cream and Onion, BBQ or Nacho Cheese. The same basic steps are followed:
r Start with demographic information about the target audience and ask

questions about the type of seasoning these consumers prefer.

r Identify the ingredients and avors that must be in the formula. r Add the basic elements of the seasoning and begin building each part of the

avor prole by adjusting levels.

r Check the appearance of the seasoning on the snack product. r Make sure the seasoning has the correct owability to ensure problem-free

application and adhesion.

r Consumer test the seasoning at several points during the development



The development of seasonings requires trial and error and repeated consumer testing. Another consideration in the development of formulation seasonings is the effects of base interaction on avor perception.


The method of applying the seasoning blend will affect the formulation. The most common method for applying seasonings to snacks is to use an inclined drum tumbler. The seasoning is metered into the tumbler and introduced as a curtain of powder across the tumbling snack chips. In some cases, oil is sprayed into the tumbler to help the seasoning adhere to the chips. It is important to keep the seasoning free owing when applied in this manner. Appropriate attention to the level of free-ow agent added to the formula is essential. The formula must be free-owing in the snack manufacturers processing facility, not just in the seasoning blenders facility. Selection of ingredients for seasonings applied as a dry powder in a tumbler usually is limited to spray-dried and encapsulated avors. Plated avors and liquid avors may ash off during the application process if the avors are volatile and the temperature of the snack chip at the time of application is too high. Spray-dried and encapsulated avors usually have a longer shelf life than plated or liquid avors. Another method for applying seasonings to snacks is to spray on a slurry of oil and seasoning. In this case, the seasoning is added at levels up to 40% to vegetable oil and then sprayed on the snack base. The seasoning-oil mixture is kept agitated to prevent the slurry from separating. Slurries are applied to snack bases at levels of 1020%. Ingredients selected for seasonings applied

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by this method typically also are spray-dried or encapsulated for the same reason described for the dry powder method. Some avor suppliers produce seasonings in a paste form that is primarily oil-soluble and may be used in this type of application. The pastes contain avors, acid, colors and avor enhancers. They usually do not contain llers, and sometimes are referred to as avor concentrates. The slurry would consist of oil, avor paste and salt. The use of a avor paste in this manner is not common. The slurry concept is also used with water as the carrier. In this case, seasonings are formulated for mixing with water, maltodextrin and starches into a slurry that is sprayed on a snack base. The moisture is removed from the nished product in a nal drying step. The resulting product is lower in oil content than the oil slurry application method. This method is primarily used in low-fat snack products where oil spray is not permitted. The downside of this type of application is heat abuse of the seasoning avor system. The heat used to quickly dry the snack also volatilizes the avor components of the seasoning blend, resulting in an unbalanced avor or loss of impact. Encapsulated avors that are insoluble in water, and do not melt, are the best choice for formulating seasonings for this application method.


Development of seasoning blends for potato chips is straightforward. Not many corrections are needed for this type of base. Potato chips generally are bland, carrying only the avor of the frying oil. The overall surface area of the chip may require additional consideration for use level. For example, a seasoning developed for a at, thin potato chip requires a lower use level to deliver the same avor impact than seasoning required to deliver avor on a thicker, ripple-cut potato chip. Large potato chip operations may use two-stage seasoning. All chips are salted directly out of the fryer, then split into two or more streams. Some chips go directly to packaging, others may go to a tumbler where seasoning is applied dry if used, and then on to separate packaging line. Seasoning blends for potato chips have reduced salt content compared to blends developed for tortilla chips or extruded snacks because some salt is already on the base. Two-stage seasoning is not done with tortilla chips, corn chips or corn puffs, and the rate of seasoning application on these products is typically monitored by rapid salt analysis. Seasonings are usually applied at use levels of 68% on salted potato chips.


Yellow corn and white corn tortilla chips need additional avor impact in seasonings to overcome the taste of the corn base. When the tortilla base is made from dehydrated masa, the avor system in the seasoning needs to be much stronger to overcome the reduced avor of the corn.



If only salt is applied, this is done downstream from the fryer. The salt contents of tortilla chip seasonings will be 2225% and higher than for potato chips, to compensate for lack of salt on the base. Use levels for tortilla chip seasonings generally are 810%. In addition, 3% 4% spray oil is added to help adhere the seasoning to the base.


Corn chips have very high fried corn avor, which overwhelms most attempts at seasoning. Stronger avors must be used in formulating seasonings for this type of base. Corn chips are generally salted in a tumbler away from the fryer. If used, the level of seasonings for corn chips generally is 810%.

Pretzels are a difcult base to avor. Seasonings will not adhere to the smooth crusty surface. Manufacturers of avored pretzels must either break open the pretzels to expose the porous internal structure or apply the seasoning using a sticky adhesive that dries on the surface of the pretzel. Flavors may be added to pretzels internally, but the avor release is not as immediate as the seasoning applied to the surface of the pretzel. Pretzels generally are formulated to be low- or no-fat. This presents avoring problems because of the need for fat to help carry and sustain avors throughout eating of the snack. Low-fat bases with applied seasonings tend to have a strong initial impact, but the avor quickly disappears and the taste of the base takes over.


Extruded snacks, whether fried or baked, usually are avored using a slurry of oil and seasoning. The extremely porous surfaces of snacks absorb oil readily. This causes the avor to be masked somewhat making additional seasoning necessary. All the salt is in the seasoning, which typically has a salt content of 1015%. The use level for seasonings applied to extruded snacks is typically 1015%.

Ashrust, P. R., ed., 1995. Food Flavorings. 2nd edition. Blackie Academic & Professional, London. Burdock, G. A., ed., 1995. Fenarolis Handbook of Flavor Ingredients, Vols. I and II. 3rd edition. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. Heath, H. B. and G. A. Reineccius, 1986. Flavor and Technology. Avi-Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York

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Reineccius, G., ed., 1994. Source Book of Flavors, 2nd edition. Chapman and Hall, New York. Risch, S. J. and G. A. Reineccius, eds., 1988. Flavor Encapsulation; ACS Symposium Series: 370. American Chemical Society, Washington, D.C. Schay, R., 1975. Natural avors. In Fenarolis Handbook of Flavor Ingredients, Vol. 1. T. E. Furia and N. Bellanca, eds. CRC Press, Inc., Palo Alto, California, pp. 271495. Tainter, D. R. and A. T. Grenis 1993. Spices and Seasonings: A Food Technology Handbook. Wiley-VCH, New York.

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