John Eshelman, director of pretzel and snack machinery sales at Reading Bakery Systems, said successful gluten-free production relied on a “delicate balance” between formulation and processing.
“There’s certain things you can do to processing equipment to accommodate formulation and ingredient changes, but at the end of the day it comes down to two major facts – holding the chip or snack together, whether it’s extruded or sheeted, and being able to manipulate it with the transfers from one belt to the next, and also sticking. Sticking is obviously a critical thing in the gluten-free world,” he told BakeryandSnacks.com at Snaxpo 2015.
“The dough does have a tendency to be sticky and there are certain processes we can use to solve those kinds of processing problems,” he said.
Belts and sheeting
Eshelman said transfer belts and dough sheeting systems were the main areas that could be looked at for improved gluten-free snack production.
“When dough is originally mixed and formed, there’s a certain temperature or energy imparted into the dough that’s going to create heat. Heat and sticky formulas to begin with are difficult to deal with, so with the case of sheeting it may be necessary to water-cool or glycol-cool the sheeting rolls to make them colder to touch. That would help in having the dough sheets release from the feeding belts,” he said.
Reading Bakery Systems used a water circulation system to chill dough sheeters, for example, pumping in cold water and re-chilling the warm exit water. With this system, he said steel sheet rolls could be chilled to anywhere between 55-60°F (12.7-15.5°C).
A growing need?
Eshelman said there were more snack makers looking into gluten-free development, equipped with a more diverse ingredients portfolio, so it was important to consider processing.
“Some are looking to replace traditionally higher-cost ingredients with lower-cost ingredients or a label that reads a little bit healthier…Really, when you think about it – when you look at trade magazines and ingredients suppliers – you can buy literally anything that was wet or hydrated product at one time and if you can incorporate those into your label and still have a product that stays together and tastes good, then why not?”
He said it was therefore important to ensure formulations were conducive to processing operations.