Extrusion Cooking Background

Extrusion cooking generally refers to the combination of heating food products in an extruder to create a cooked and shaped product. Raw materials, such as flours, starches, proteins, salt, sugar, and other minor ingredients, are mixed, kneaded, cooked, and worked into a plasticlike dough mass. Heat can be applied directly by steam injection or indirectly through heated barrel or through the conversion of mechanical energy. The final process temperature in the cooking extruder can be as high as 200°C, but the residence time is relatively short, 10 to 60 s (1). Thus, extrusion cooking is also called a high-temperature, short-time (HTST) process.

The first cooking extruder was developed in the late 1940s and led to a great expansion of the application of extruders in the food field (2). Cooking extruders have many different sizes and shapes, which allow a wide range of moisture contents (10-40%), feed ingredients, cooking temperatures, and residence times. In addition, the ability for extruders to vary the screw, barrel, and die configurations for the cooking and shaping requirements of different food product makes extrusion cooking one of the most versatile food processes.

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