Batch Roasting Machines
Forming and Sheeting
Different masa cutters exist for the production of various snack configurations (circular, triangular, pie-shaper, etc.). It operates exactly as showed for tortillas, but cutting smaller pieces and generating less or no rework. Most common shapes are circular and triangular pieces. This product may go straight to the fryer, to produce what is called "corn chips". Corn chips are different in texture and have a higher oil absorption compared to tortilla chips. Most of the fried snacks produced today are baked before being fried, in order to enhance the alkaline flavour and reduce oil uptake during frying. Baking of tortilla chips generally follows the same for table tortillas.
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Tortillas pieces are sometimes equilibrated for up to 20 min before frying. However, in many operations equilibration is not used. Commercial equilibrating conveyors are similar to the cooling racks described in the tortillas processing. Equilibration produces uniform consistency and reduces blistering during frying. During cooling and equilibration, the tortilla pieces lose additional moisture (up to 3%), and the moisture within each piece become more evenly distributed. Most commercial fryers are continuous types with direct or indirect heating elements. Indirectfire fryers are more expensive but more efficient, with lower operational cost. Modern fryers are designed to continuously filter out fines and facilitate cleaning. The frying temperature and residence time depend on the type of product. Masa and tortilla pieces from yellow maize require a lower frying temperature and a longer residence time than masa from white or blended white and yellow corn. Tortilla chips are generally fried at temperatures of 178 – 185ºC for 60 - 120 sec. Salt and flavouring agents are applied immediately after frying. The hot chips are conveyed into rotating cylinder or drums equipped with powder dispensers or a spraying system, where a liquid seasoning mix is used. Manual application is not recommended due to its non-uniform distribution. Generally, the liquid mix consists of hot oil, salt, seasoning, and flavouring and colourings agents. Upon cooling the oil crystallizes, forming the seasoning coat. Salt can also be deposited on tortilla chips as a liquid spray or by a granulated salt dispenser positioned over the conveying belts after the tumbling operation. The amount of salt generally added to corn and tortilla chips is 1.5 and 1.0%, respectively.