Invented by David Arthur Lanner, Yen-Ping Chin Hsieh, Stephen Paul Zimmerman, Lee Michael Teras, Charles Edward Jones, John Russell Herring, Russell William Groves, Mark Joseph Fiteny, Kellogg North America Co

The tortilla chip market has been growing steadily over the years, with consumers looking for healthier snack options. One of the key features of a good tortilla chip is the surface bubbling, which gives it a unique texture and crunch. However, achieving consistent bubbling across all chips has been a challenge for manufacturers. This is where the process to make tortilla chips with controlled surface bubbling comes in. The process involves using a specialized machine that creates controlled air pockets on the surface of the tortilla dough. This ensures that each chip has the same texture and crunch, making for a more enjoyable snacking experience. The machine also allows for customization of the size and shape of the chips, giving manufacturers more flexibility in their product offerings. The market for this process is expected to grow in the coming years, as more consumers are looking for healthier snack options that still provide a satisfying crunch. The controlled surface bubbling process also allows for the use of healthier ingredients, such as whole grain flours and natural seasonings, without compromising on taste or texture. In addition, the process can also help manufacturers reduce waste and increase efficiency in their production lines. By ensuring consistent bubbling, there is less chance of chips being rejected or discarded due to inconsistencies in texture. This can lead to cost savings and increased profitability for manufacturers. Overall, the market for the process to make tortilla chips with controlled surface bubbling is a promising one. With the growing demand for healthier snack options and the need for increased efficiency in production lines, this process offers a solution that benefits both manufacturers and consumers. As more companies adopt this technology, we can expect to see a wider variety of high-quality tortilla chips on the market.

The Kellogg North America Co invention works as follows

Uniformly shaped snack chip, preferably tortilla-type chips with raised surface features, and a method of preparing them. Pre-cooked starch-based material can be used to make the chips. The snack chips should have raised surface features. These features can range from approximately 12% to 40% for large surfaces; about 20% to 40% for medium surface features; and about 25% to 60% for small surfaces. One embodiment has a thickness of about 1 mm to 3 mm. The average thickness of raised surfaces features is about 2.3 mm up to 3.2 mm. The maximum thickness of the chip can be less than 5.5 mm. The coefficient of variation for the thickness of the chip is greater than 15%.

Background for Process to make tortilla chips with controlled surface bubbling.

Tortilla chips can also made from dried masa flour. These dried masa flours can be made using the same processes as in U.S. Pat. No. 4,344,366 to Garza, U.S. Pat. No. 2,704,257 to Diez De Sollano et al., and U.S. Pat. No. No. You can then hydrate the masa flour with water to make masa dough. This masa dough is used to make tortilla chips in traditional fashion.

Fried tortilla chips have randomly distributed, raised surface features like bubbles and blisters. The tortilla chips are crispy and crunchy with a distinct lime-treated corn flavor. The chips are made from individual pieces of dough that take on random shapes during frying.

The tortilla chips are usually packaged in bags or large canisters. They are then randomly packed. Random packing results in a low-bulk-density packaged product. Low bulk density packages are basically those that have a greater volume capacity than the actual volume of the snacks inside. This means that the package has a lower net weight than the volume of the snack pieces it contains.

These large volumes allow the chips that were not packed in a specific order to settle on the bottom of the bag. This creates a significant outage (i.e. the total volume of a package less the absolute volume of product contained within it). This allows for the accumulation of moisture and oxygen inside the package. This increases the chance of the chips becoming rancid and stale and creates a lower perceived value for the consumer. This package is not designed to protect fragile chips from shipping loads and handling. Therefore, it is common for consumers find many broken chips in their bags.

Tortilla chips with chip dips or?salsas” These are a popular snack combination. The chips are very messy and can result in tortilla chips being dipped into salsa. The chips are not designed to hold the dip well after it is placed on them. This is especially true for fluid dips. Most tortilla chips lack a dip containment area or ‘well’. The chip is not capable of holding liquid dips. Dips or portions of dips can easily flow off of the chip and land on clothing or household furniture.

It would be desirable to offer a uniformly shaped tortilla chip that has a defined area for dip. To reduce breakage, it would be possible to stack tortilla chips one on top of the other and package them into high-density containers such as canisters. A simplified cooking process is preferred over the traditional baking and frying of tortilla chips.

Making a tortilla chip like this is not an easy task. It is possible to damage the tortilla chips’ surface features by stacking them on top of each other in a nested manner. These are typical characteristics of tortilla chips. This causes a chip to have a sloppy appearance and a loss of its crunchy texture.

Nestled tortilla chips have been absent from the market to date. Tortilla chips are distinguished by their bubble-like surface features that break through the chips’ base. These bubbles are an essential part of tortilla chips, giving a unique texture experience that offers varying degrees of crispness. A chip made from corn contains bubbles, which is a visual indicator to the consumer that this chip has a desirable texture benefit. Corn chips products that lack surface bubble structures are more preferred by some consumers than the crispy, light texture of tortilla chips. This is due to the faster growth of the tortilla chip segment.

There is a tradeoff between placing fragile bubble surface features within close contact with adjacent chips. This could explain why there are no nested tortilla-style chips. There is a greater chance of direct contact between one chip’s lower surface and that of another chip’s upper surface with nested arrangements. Direct contact can cause damage to the surface bubbles and a visual deterioration. The formulations and methods used to make nested chips have an impact on the strength and formation of surface bubbles. It is difficult to provide a high-quality, nested tortilla chip that meets the consumer’s expectations.

The history of moisture loss in a dough piece during frying follows the traditional drying theory. This suggests that there is an initial constant rate of rapid moisture release, which is not limited to diffusion through the dough. Most moisture loss occurs early in frying, when the dough comes into contact with the hot oil. The early moisture loss history is crucial to the final product texture. Due to the convective force of oil on the product’s surface during cooking, the final product can take a variety three-dimensional shapes.

Surface bubbles are formed by a combination of simultaneous forces, including a rapid change in steam volume and limited interstitial channels that transport steam. Also, localized gelatinization occurs on the dough pieces. The steam is trapped briefly due to rapid steam evolution from constant moisture loss during frying. A surface bubble forms when steam comes into contact with gelatinized dough regions of sufficient strength. When the steam escapes from another surface, bubble formation ceases.

The first requirement to nested tortilla chips should be that each chip be uniform in size and shape, so that they can be inserted one after another with little spacing. You can make snack pieces of uniform size by cooking a dough of a certain thickness between two arcuate molds of a specific size and shape. A similar apparatus is described in U.S. Pat. No. No.

The dough must be strong enough to form the shapes on the constrained fry molds. However, it should not be too flexible that it cracks upon being bent. A tortilla dough could become inflexible if it is removed too quickly or too much water during baking. To form a well-defined shape, a certain amount of dough viscosity must be maintained. To allow surface bubble expansion during frying, a critical amount of dough viscosity must also be present. Otherwise the bubbles will break down or collapse quickly. A dough composition that is strong enough to form bubbles and shapes and flexible enough to be used for frying would be ideal. This would simplify the entire process and eliminate the need for a complex, expensive unit operation.

A tortilla-style chip must have surface bubbles through random expansion of dough. This is a requirement because it depends on the quick release of moisture from the dough during cooking. The method of creating nested snack bits in a way that results in low variation in the size and shape of the final snack pieces can result in a decrease in heat and mass transfer rates to constrained dough pieces. This can be detrimental to the product’s appearance and texture. The dough is constrained by the molds that are used to limit it. This makes the heat transfer slower to the dough pieces. After the oil passes through the molds, the frying oil will have a delayed contact to the dough. The molds also limit moisture transport from the dough surface. The steam that travels towards the surface of the dough pieces begins to evaporate as the dough heats up and reaches the boiling point. The steam would quickly escape from tortilla chip production where the pieces of dough are fried in oil. Constrained frying moulds provide resistance to steam movement. The steam gets trapped and forms a boundary between the dough & molds. The steam acts as an insulation, preventing hotter frying oils from coming in contact with the dough surface. This prevents further heat and transport limitations. At the bottom of the dough, the limitations of steam movement are even more apparent. This inhibits the natural tendency of steam bubbles to rise to surface by buoyancy forces. The lower mold resists steam bubbles from traveling transversely across the dough surface, until it reaches an escape point. This is where the steam bubble can break away from the mold or piece of dough and rise vertically through the oil. Traditional free-frying tortilla chips uses a dough piece that moves at random angles to the oil. This prevents steam accumulation along product surfaces.

Constrained frying can have a negative impact on the product. This is because bubble formation is decreased, which results in dense, undercooked portions containing starch that are sticky due to excessive hydration. Starch gelatinization increases when starch is exposed to extreme heat, such as high temperatures for frying and water that can absorb the starch at higher temperatures. Traditional random-free frying tortilla chips removes the moisture quickly from the snack pieces, which eliminates the need for high levels of gelatinization.

Constrained fried tortilla chips can cause texture issues in many ways. Puffed chips can be caused by increased levels of gelatinized starsch films that form across a large portion of the dough’s surface. This creates a barrier to keep the steam in the dough. This internal pressure causes the dough to expand between the lower and upper mold halves. The end product can be uniformly expanded and have a pillow-like appearance, with distinct surface bubbles that range from few to none. This puffed structure can collapse with certain dough compositions and cooling conditions after frying, which causes a further worsening in texture.

If heat and mass transport are more tightly constrained, there may be little or no expansion of the dough. It is possible to see steam bubbles and slow evaporation. Instead of losing moisture at a steady rate, moisture evaporates slowly and at an even rate. Although the final product’s target moisture may have been achieved, the process to reach that goal would be quite different. Random bubble formation is absent because there has not been a vigorous release steam through the dough. This would have led to small pockets of steam leaving the surface, leaving behind bubbles. A dense, flat final chip results.

The final product may contain too many bubbles to withstand the abrasive forces experienced in a nested configuration. By trapping steam, the dough can be pressed into a thin layer of weaker material. A common pressure point is also created by the increased mass transport resistance of each chip. This causes bubbles to form on one side of the chip, making it more vulnerable to being pinched by chips adjacent.

It would be desirable to have a chip with surface features that don’t break when chips are stacked on top of each other but isn’t too difficult.

These and other objects will be apparent from the following disclosure.

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