Potato chips are incredibly common snack foods, and the manufacturing process to create the perfect chip is full of complex cutting and cooking. They are a perfect side order in the summer when it might be too hot for fries or baked potatoes.
People love potato chips. They’re one of the top snack foods in the country, and there’s a wide range of flavors and styles to choose from: wavy, kettle-cooked, baked, barbecue, and sour cream and onion, to name a few. Still, one must wonder how traditional chips go from the potato to the bag. To satisfy your curiosity, here are the steps to how potato chips are manufactured.
Peeling and Slicing
Potatoes arrive at the manufacturing plant for inspection. Workers inspect them for blemishes, spots, and other defects. Approved potatoes travel down a conveyor belt to the next stage of manufacturing. Rejected potatoes are used for animal feed or as another food byproduct.
The approved potatoes load onto a vertical helical screw conveyor belt into an automatic peeling machine. They’re then rinsed in cold water.
The potatoes then pass through revolving slicing rollers that cut them into thin slices approximately 1.7 mm thick. The blade type used depends on the style of chip. Straight blades produce regular chips, while rippled blades create ridged or wavy chips.
Another cold-water rinse cleans these slices of any leftover starch. Natural potato chips may keep this starch.
Frying and Seasoning
Next, the potato slices pass through air jets that remove any water. They’ll then pass through oil troughs at 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit to fry. Paddles push the slices along, and receptacles from above the troughs salt the chips. The salting rate is about 1.75 lb of salt for every 100 lb of chips.
If the chips require different flavorings, they may also pass through drums filled with powdered seasonings.
Cooling and Packaging
At the end of the troughs, the slices fall into a wire mesh belt. Excess oil drains off as the chips move across this belt; this begins the cooling process. An optical sorter picks out any burnt slices with air.
Afterwards, the chips pass through a packaging machine, where they’re scaled. They go through one final inspection for foreign matter, and then the chips flow down into a bag.
The machines use a computerized processing unit to ensure that only a certain amount of chips fills a bag. Heat seals the bags through the top and bottom to allow air into the bag. This prevents the chips from breaking during transport to the store.
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