Njk

KAAA/V

Feed auger

AAA/

Cooking tank Steeping tank MASA

Strong grinder

Laminating roller

Laminating roller

Doctoring device

7 Wet cut chips

MASA pump

Cutting roller

MASA pump

Cutting roller

Doctoring device

7 Wet cut chips

Heat exchanger

To cartoner

To cartoner

Corn toasting oven Conditioner

Fryer system Seasoner Tumbler Form fill seal packaging

Figure 2. Tortilla chip process outline.

ing, the corn is quenched to below 150°F to stop starch gelatinization. The cooked corn is then held in water or steeped from 8 to 24 h. At this point the moisture content has reached 45-50%. After steeping, the corn is pumped to a washing drum where lime and loose hulls are removed. The nixtamal is ground to masa in a stone grinding mill. Stone grinding is preferred because it provides the range of particle sizes needed for optimum frying performance and texture. Water added to the mill to facilitate grinding brings moisture of the ground corn or masa to 50-54%. The ground masa is immediately pumped to a spreading device that deposits a 0.5-l-in.-thick sheet onto sizing rollers. The rollers extrude the masa into an extremely thin sheet (less than 1/16 in), which is cut into the desired shape with roller cutters. The wet, newly cut chips, which lie on the belt in a monolayer are baked at extremely high temperatures (600-850°F) for 10-20 s. During the baking some moisture is driven off and a dry skin is formed around a moist interior. To prepare the baked chips for frying, the chips pass through a conditioning chamber where the moisture of the chip equilibrates and the chip cools. If moisture equilibration did not take place, the chips would expand and blister in the fryer. Conditioning equipment varies widely and consequently equilibration times range from 15 s to 15 min. In the conditioner the baked chips loose an additional 2% water and enter the fryer at 3538% (7).

Tortilla chip fryers resemble potato chip fryers. They usually contain paddles to keep the chips moving downstream. The last section of the fryer contains a hold-down belt, which submerges the buoyant chips and ensures that all the chips will contain less than 1.5% water. Due to the lower water content of the tortilla chips, frying times are shorter them for potato chips, about 1 min at 350-370°F. The fat content of fried tortilla chips is about 25%. Chips are seasoned and coated while hot, then packaged. The process for fried corn chips is very similar to the tortilla chip process. Longer cook times and an increased water-to-corn ratio produces a somewhat softer corn. After stone grinding, the resulting masa contains 50-52% water and has a particle size range somewhat more coarse than the tortilla masa. The wet masa is extruded and cut into pieces that fall into very hot frying oil, about 400-410°F. The coarse structure of the masa ensures that pathways exist for the water to escape. Otherwise an expanded blistered chip would result. The fried chips are more friable than the tortilla chips and contain about 35% fat.

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