Extrusion is arguably one of the most commonly used processing techniques by food manufacturers. Some of the foods most frequently made through this techniques are pasta, cereal, snack cakes, baby food, bread and even pet food. When it’s done correctly, extrusion transforms and molds a food product into a more desirable shape for consumption. If you’re interested in learning more about this technique, keep reading and we’ll reveal how extrusion works in the food processing industry.
The basic concept of extrusion is that it takes a ground food product and transforms it into a different shape. There are a number of instances when this is necessary, such as the manufacturing of dog food for instance. If you’ve ever read the ingredients on a bag of premium dog food, you may have noticed just how many different ingredients it contains. An average bag of dog food may have chicken, beef, carrots, potatoes, corn and other ingredients. So, how are manufacturers able to force all of these items into such a tiny bit-sized pellet? While there are a couple different ways to accomplish this, the easiest and most effective is through extrusion.
Steps For Extrusion
The first step in the extrusion process is to ground all of the ingredients down into a more “giving” consistency that can be molded to form different shapes. Once this is done, the ingredients are sent through a large machine, known as an extruder, where other ingredients like fats, colouring dyes, salt and sugar are added. These ingredients essentially begin to change the texture of the product, preparing it for the extrusion process. As the mix contains through the machine, steam is added to rise the temperature and essentially cook the product.
Most extruder machines turn clockwise as they force the food product out in the desired shape. When the food originally comes out, it may still be hot, moist and steamy. Depending on what ingredients were used, though, it should harden up to a more solid consistency after sitting out for a few minutes.
You might be surprised to hear that the world’s first extrusion device was invented and used to make sausages back in the 1870s. Following this new invention, other companies began to catch on and use them for cereal, baked goods and other products. There have been several improvements and additions made to extruders since then, but their main purpose remains the same – they ground up raw ingredients and re-shape them into something more desirable for consumption.