Potato Chips

Potato chip manufacture is much more involved than the mere frying of thinly sliced potatoes. Potatoes are living organisms and as such have respiration and energy requirements. Because it is impossible to provide a year-round supply of potatoes to the chipper, potatoes must be stored. During storage, the plant's energy requirements are met by conversion of starch to sugars through enzymatic action. After a short curing period that allows cuts and bruises to heal, chipping potatoes are placed in well-ventilated cold storage (95% RH and 50-55°F) (3). However, during storage there is an accumulation of the reducing sugars, glucose, and fructose, which lead to un-acceptably dark chips (4). Stored potatoes must be reconditioned to reconvert the reducing sugars back to starch through enzymatic action. Reconditioning is carried out by holding potatoes at 65-70°F until frying trials produce chips of the desired color, usually in one to four weeks (3). Potatoes with higher specific gravities are desired because they have increased chip yield and reduced oil consumption (4).

The block flow diagram of Figure 1 outlines a large commercial chipping process. After dumping, the potatoes are conveyed to a washer-destoner. Often, the conveying system is a water flume where a large centrifugal pump moves potatoes and water around the plant. The turbulence of the water helps remove dirt and stones, which are separated by gravity and are removed by a conveyor. Other types of destoner include an elevating screw and a bubble unit in which jets of air or water tumble the potatoes and dislodge

Table 1. Estimated Sales by Manufacturers (Millions of Dollars)

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