Americans consume nearly three billion Custom Cereal Boxes each year. We don’t are aware of how Rice Krispies, Corn Pops, or other cereals are created. Here’s a look into the scientific basis behind our most loved breakfast items.
Popcorn to eat breakfast? It’s not what that most people imagine having in the morning and isn’t marketed as breakfast food. But it does possess several of the characteristics that cereal makers look for in breakfast foods. It’s light and airy It’s crisp and it crunches when you bite into it. If you placed an amount of popcorn inside a bowl and put milk on top. The popcorn will probably remain crisp for at least longer than your preferred breakfast cereal.
What about the things that don’t pop in the same way as popcorn does? A lot of the technology utilized in the making of breakfast cereals has been used specifically to make these foods “poppable”–to create desirable popcorn-like properties in food items that do not normally contain them. Foods like whole grain rice and wheat for instance. These grains are ground into flour and later blended with other ingredients in order to make the dough, which is baked into small chunks of cereal.
To know how complete grains and dough can end up in the form of Puffed Wheat Cheerios as well as Kix it is important to know why popcorn pops in the first place.
- The kernel of popcorn is composed of a tough shell that is surrounded by a starchy, dense center. There’s also lots of moisture inside the starch. If you put an unpopped bag of popcorn inside a microwave it “cooks” the popcorn by heating the moisture within the starch. The starch softens and creates the consistency of gelatin when it cooks.
- If the moisture is heated to the point where it reaches the boiling point it turns into steam and expands. It is at least trying to. What makes popcorn different from other grains is the fact that its tough outer shell doesn’t let steam escape. Instead, the kernel of corn is like an insignificant pressure cooker. The steam pressure rises until the shell is unable to hold it, and then it breaks.
- If you’ve ever cracked the bottle of champagne, an unshaken soda bottle, or squirted a drop of shaving cream in your palm, it’s simple to see the next step: When the shell breaks, the pressure is reduced and the moisture inside the starch immediately transforms from a liquid state into gaseous form, creating air bubbles within the cooked gelatinous starch, which cause it to foam up into a mass that expands by 30 to 40 times its size. The steam then escapes, leaving behind the dry, crispy, styrofoam starch that we call popcorn.
POP! GOES THE CEREAL
Rice and wheat don’t have shells on their exteriors that hold steam in the same way as corn does. Therefore if you’re looking for the same results as popcorn. For these grains, you’ll need to supply a pressure cooker. If cereal manufacturers want to create puffed wheat, puff rice, or puffed dough they accomplish this by using a method called “gun puffing” developed by Quaker Oats researchers at the beginning of the 20th century. What is the reason it’s called gun puffing? It is because the technique was perfected by using an actual Army cannon – one that was in action during the Spanish-American War–that was transformed into the pressure cooker. (Corn kernels may also be puffing. This is the way Kellogg’s Corn Pops are made. )
Corn Pops, Puffed Wheat, and Puffed Rice
- Whole grain is cooked in the pressure cooker (or cannon) until the pressure rises to 200 pounds/square inch (psi) which is about 13.6 times atmospheric pressure (at sea level).
- After the grains are properly cooked and cooked to perfection, the pressure in the pressure cooker will be released in a single, rapid release, as when popcorn is popping. The cooker even emits a loud pop! When the pressure is let out.
- The sudden decrease in pressure causes the grain’s moisture to turn into steam, causing the grains to puff up the grains like popcorn.
- The Puffed grains are dried and baked and, for puffed-wheat cereals such as Kellogg’s Honey Smacks and Post Golden Crisp many sugars are added in order to appeal to children.
“Extruded” Gun-Puffed Cereals Made From Dough
What is the process used to create Kix, Trix, Cheerios, Alpha-Bits, Cocoa Puffs, and many various other “extruded gun-puffed” cereals?
- Different combinations of oat, corn wheat, rice, and flours are combined with water, sugar color, flavoring, and other ingredients to create the sweet dough that is then injected into a machine known as the forming extruder.
- The extruder shapes it into the shape you want, just like what you’d do in the past with Play-Doh as an infant. To create a shape like a star it is necessary to squeeze. Extrude the dough through an opening that is shaped like a star. If you’d like a round shape it is possible to push the dough in a circular hole. When you’re creating Cheerios then you’ll have to make an opening in the middle to make the shape of a donut. If you’re making Alpha-Bits You use holes that are shaped like letters.
- The dough that has been extruded comes out of the hole with the correct form, rotating blades slice it into smaller pieces of cereal.
- The dough pieces that have been extruded are too moist level to allow the use of guns. Therefore, they are dried until their moisture content decreases from upwards of 24% to a desired 9% to 12 percent. (Unpopped popcorn kernels for comparison, have a water content of 13.5 percent to 14 percent. )
- The dry pieces are fed into a puffer. The puffed cereal is baked dry.
If you’ve seen cookies bake within the oven then you’ve noticed that the dough puffs up as it cooks. Rice Krispies are made in an identical way, and in a process known as “oven-puffing .”
- The rice is cooked under pressure at a lower 15-18 psi (vs. that 200 psi that is used for gun puffing) using water, sugar salt, flavorings, salt as well as other ingredients.
- The rice that has been cooked is dried, reducing the moisture content to 17%. Then it’s “bumped,” or fed through rollers in order to make the grains flatter and form small cracks in the rice that can aid in the puffing process.
- The rice that has been cooked and bumped is dried again to reduce the moisture content down from 17% to 10 percent, which is the ideal amount for baking. The grains are then placed into an oven. That rotates and is baked at temperatures of 550-650 degrees for approximately 90 seconds, giving them that distinctive puffy appearance and a crunchy texture.
- What is the reason for the well-known Snap! Crackle! Pop! sound? How do the walls of puffy Rice Krispies kernels are so fragile and thin that many of them break down? If they come in contact with milk.
CORN FLAKES AND BRAN FLAKES
In a bowl filled with Corn Flakes, also known as Raisin Bran, it’s easy to imagine that the flakes began as one piece of cereal which was then broken into thousands of individual pieces. But that’s not the way they’re created.
- It’s simpler to create each flake on its own. For corn flakes, the kernels made from corn are processed in order to remove them. Their hard shell as well as the germ is the part of the kernel. That could have developed to form a stalk of corn if the kernel was planted as seed. What remains after the shell and germ are taken out? Starch chunks that will form an individual corn flake.
- They are then cooked using a mix of sugar, water salt, flavoring as well as other components until firm. White starch is translucent, soft, and mild gold brown.
- Corn that has been cooked is then fed to “de-lumping” equipment to break into clumps. Then it’s dried in a hot air dryer and then pushed through huge rollers to break up the chunks of corn into flake.
- They are cooked until they attain the right golden hue and contain a moisture content in the range of 1.5 -3 percent.
- Bran flakes are created similar to the way they are made but with a difference. Whole grains and not pieces can be used to make the flake. Flaked cereals are also made using dough or rice.
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