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Healthy alternatives to snack frying
June 10, 2009

The snacks industry has responded positively to demands from consumers for healthier snacks by reformulating, but there is an urgent need to further improve the nutritional profile if market share is not to be lost as consumers search for alternatives to traditional savoury snacks.

Hot air expansion can replace frying as a process for converting extruded pellets into a finished snack.   During frying snack pellets absorb a large amount of oil giving them a high fat content;hot air expansion achieves snacks of comparable texture and appearance without any oil being used. The minimum amount of oil required for flavour purposes may be applied at the end of the process.

The healthy positioning of hot air expanded products can be further extended through the complete elimination of oil.  Baker Perkins has successfully applied knowledge from their confectionery technology to enable polyol based syrups to carry seasoning and flavours.  Polyols are low-calorie sugar substitutes without the sweetness of sugar, and are ideal carriers for savoury flavours.

The equipment used for hot air expansion includes the Baker Perkins Thermoglide2 Toaster.  Product is conveyed through multiple temperature zones in a fluidised bed that gently lifts and tumbles the pellets to ensure even and consistent expansion.  The Thermoglide2 offers continuous processing with multiple temperature zones to provide more flexibility, greater consistency and better control over the finished product parameters than batch systems.

Designed specifically for snacks and similar products such as breakfast cereals, the Thermoglide2 features an effective and compact dust extraction system and an energy-efficient gas heating system.  It is available in a range of sizes to suit most applications with outputs from 150 to over 1,000kg/hr.

Baker Perkins offers a range of proven technologies for baking and toasting.  Ovens from the Baker Perkins range, conventionally associated with the biscuit industry, can be adapted for snack products that need to sit on a band – usually larger, flat products such as snack chips, baked potato chips and snack crackers that cannot be processed in a fluidised bed.  Radiant or convection heat, or a combination of both in any proportion, is used to obtain the required product texture and colour.

The Snack Toaster oven is a DGF (Direct Gas Fired) unit with extremely high heat input features utilising radiant burners, developed specifically for toasting snack products that require extremely rapid processing, such as snack chips.  No drying is involved, merely toasting the product exterior.