Coating of snacks with fat, herbs and spices
A snack is generally a cereal-based ready-to-eat treat, mostly savoury, to grab and eat on the go. Although simple in principle, the process delivers its best when finely adjusted.
The core is made of a pre-cooked and expanded cereal mix (corn, wheat, rice, potato…). Expansion is either direct (high pressure short time extrusion) or indirect (low pressure extrusion, drying, expansion in hot oil or air). The resulting bulk density is very low : 0.05.
The liquid coating is prepared with:
- Vegetable oil
- Oil-soluble flavours
- Dry seasonings (spice mix) optionally
- A dry seasoning can be further applied:
- A spices and herbs mix
How does it work?
The coating sequences run as follows
Consistent dosing of the snacks
Liquid dosing and dispersion, often air-assisted, + 5 – 30%
Powder dosing, +1 – 10%.
The operation occurs in a rotary tumbler whose length and diameter are calculated to accommodate the product flow. Baffles inside enhance the tumbling action.
The coating relies on the dispersion of the liquid and powder ingredients first, then on the mechanical friction caused by tumbling. Liquid and powder ingredients can be added separately.
One option is to mix finely ground spice powder into the oil and carry out just one application. This ‘slurry’ needs to be constantly agitated until it is applied. Ingredient dispersion can be enhanced by blowing air.
The liquid ingredients are best dispersed by dedicated spraying systems.
The powder can be dispersed with a vibratory tray or blown and air borne. In the latter case, an electrostatic gun is used to charge the particles and force the powder ingredient onto the snack bed.
It is a continuous operation. Rotation speed and tumbler tilt angle are adjusted to achieve the required friction and residence time.
After coating, the product need a short setting time for the oil to absorb and is then ready for packaging.
Coating tumbler. Courtesy of Spray Dynamics
How do you measure your success?
Key quality features
The product is one of the most universal treat appreciated
Crunchiness through controlled expansion, drying and frying
Mate or glossy, light or heavy coating, soft or spicy, use of visuals
No smearing of the package. No oxydation
Key quality parameters
One of the most universal application
Flavour selection can be relative basic or a sophisticated to follow trends
Machine design, volume, accessories : tumbler length, diameter and baffles design
Mechanical energy used for mixing and dispersion: tumbler tilt angle, tumbler rotation speed.