Raw potatoes

Raw potatoes

Sliced raw potatoes
Figure 1. Commercial potato chip process flow diagram.

debris. Once washed, the potatoes are abrasively peeled. The peeler contains long cylindrical rollers covered with a rough material. The units are designed to provide uniform tumbling of potatoes against the rollers. Steam and chemical (lye) peelers are generally not used with chips because such methods lead to unsightly rings, while chemicals can carry over to the oil. Peeled potatoes can be sized, if necessary. Most North American manufacturers use rotary centrifugal slicers. Potatoes are fed into the center of a rotating bowl where centrifugal action and carefully designed impellers force the potatoes against knives mounted in the stationary outer housing. A large variety of knives are available including straight, corrugated, wave, and julienne types. To maintain efficient cutting, blades must be replaced frequently. Raw slice thickness is about 1/16 in. Slice thickness must be adjusted to compensate for such variables as potato variety, physical condition, specific gravity, consumer preference, and ease of processing. Sliced potatoes are washed and sprayed with either cold or hot water to remove surface starch and sugars. After draining, they are fried.

Modern potato fryers incorporate a variety of devices to insure long oil life and uniformity in frying conditions. Hot oil, 360-380°F, is pumped into the front end of the fryer where the washed slices enter. The turbulent action of water escaping help separate the slices. The velocity of the oil and the action of conveying paddles helps move the chips downstream. To achieve final frying to less than 1.5% moisture, the last section of the fryer contains a hold-down conveyor to uniformly remove the last traces of water from the buoyant chips. During frying the oil temperature drops by about 40°F. External heat exchangers are used to bring the oil back to the desired inlet temperature (5). After frying, chips are salted and optionally flavored before they are packaged. Packaging for chips should include moisture, oxygen, and light barriers.

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