Frito-Lay North America has filed an international patent for a method it has developed to reduce the oil content of potato chips by around a third.
The snack giant has established an oil temperature scheme that it says reduces oil pick-up during frying.
Its method uses a continuous-frying process to produce kettle-style potato chips.
Frito-Lay claims a final oil content of 20-23% compared to 34-38% in traditional potato chips made using the continuous-frying method and 30% in batch fried kettle chips.
“There are virtually no methods known to reduce oil pick-up within the fryer. Consequently, a need exists that reduces oil take-up of potato chips while in the fryer,” Frito-Lay said in its patent filing.
It has also developed a pre and post-treatment method that it says contributes to final oil content reduction.
Important amid consumer demands
Oil content is a “very important product variable” in potato chips, Frito-Lay said.
It said low oil content is desirable for nutritional reasons and is favorable for marketing amid trends towards better-for-you, healthier alternatives to snack foods.
“Many consumers prefer healthier alternatives to the traditional snack foods. As a result, there is great demand for healthier snack foods. One option of making the traditional potato chip healthier is by decreasing the oil content of the chip.”
Temperature management and treatments
Frito-Lay’s new temperature scheme - called the U-shaped temperature-time profile – is used instead of the usual commercial production that maintains a cooking oil temperature of around 365⁰F (185⁰C) or higher.
“A steeper, faster temperature drop upon initial introduction of the potato slice to the fryer, followed by a longer period of exposure to lower temperatures before increasing to standards frying temperatures, reduces oil content of a potato chip,” it said.
In its patent filing, the snack giant said the unwashed potato slices must be put into the cooking oil at an initial temperature of around 320⁰F. This temperature must then be dropped to between 220⁰F and 260⁰F within no more than about 3-5 minutes.
The potato chips must be cooked at a temperature of less than 260⁰F for at least three minutes before increasing the final cooking time temperature to around 230⁰F to 400⁰F.
Frito-Lay added that submerging the potatoes in a hot water bath before production and using superheated steam on the final potato chips can contribute to reducing the overall oil content.
“The two pre and post-treatment methods, combined with the primary temperature scheme method for reducing oil content, yield a potato chip with significantly reduced oil content,” it said.
Frito-Lay filed its patent under The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an international patent law treaty that allows a uniform patent to be considered by signatory national or regional authorities.
The full filing can be found here .