Corn-based snacks are one of the most popular snacks among all ages due to their very good tastes and varieties. Corn-based snacks are made out of cornmeal that turns into a puffy and crunchy snack through a process. By placing the wet cornmeal in an extruder and changing it into desired shapes corn snacks are made. Then it is passed through a mold with high pressure, here the moisture of the corn vaporizes. As the mixture passes through the mold, it is cut to the desired sizes, it is then dried and coated with flavor. Corn snack is made in an extruding machine. Extrusion is a thermodynamic process that changes the temperature, pressure, and moisture of the materials to produce this snack.
6 basic steps are necessary to be followed to turn simple corn into a complex-shaped snack with delicious texture:
First, cornmeal should be mixed with a little water to create a thick paste. Next, the paste loads into an extruding machine that transforms wet dough into snacks.
The puffed corn is passed through the mold and exposed to high pressure. The mold is set at the proper temperature where the moisture in the cornmeal mixture quickly turns into steam, during this process, air cells are created that cause the mixture to puff up.
Once the puffy corns were expanded and reached the desired texture and size, they should be cut into the right size. For doing this, a knife or rotating blade cuts them off to the proper size and shape as they come out of the mold. The shape and size can be customized as needed by adjusting the output shape, through which the snacks pop up and make a ring, wheel, or ball-shaped snack. At this stage, the corn puff has been transformed into the proper size and shape but the texture is not perfect yet.
After cutting the Collette (corn puff) and forming it into the desired shape, it is time to dry the corn snack. At this point, the snacks are conveyed through an oven for drying and removing the excess moisture and getting a crispy texture.
Just as popcorn is flavored after the kernels pop, corn snacks are flavored after being dried. Salt, cheese, and pepper are the commonly used flavors. Snacks are coated with these flavors after being completely dried. The flavoring agent is usually in liquid form. Snacks are rolled in liquid flavor and get a crust on their surface. The coating gets thickened and hardened in a few minutes. Once the corn snacks have the flavored coating it’s time to separate them; when they reach room temperature it’s time to pack them.
Snacks are ready for packaging after the flavor coating dries. The flavored corn snacks are separated into batches, then measured and grouped into their production packages. Most manufacturers use tubular plastic or aluminum foil to seal the packages.
Forming and filling stations are used for packaging and sealing in most snack factories. In these stations, a device heats both ends of the tube and turns it into a bag. After measuring and weighing the desired amount of snacks in the bags, the bags are cut and separated to finally be sent to their final destination on standard pallets.
One of the remarkable points in the production process of corn snacks is that they are prepared without using oil and frying, and as mentioned, they are produced through the extrusion process in which no oil is used. Also because no artificial flavors and preservatives were used in the production, these products are more beneficial than the snacks prepared by conventional methods.