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Crispy, Crunchy Texture


Crunchy and fat-reduced snacks can be conveniently prepared in a microwave or conventional oven with a new coating system.


Consumers typically have a negative perception of breadcrumbed products as a high amount of fat is needed to achieve a tasty and crunchy texture. Such foods are either baked in an oven or prepared in the fryer, although fat is already present in them. However, more manufacturers are keen to improve the nutritional value of these convenience foods in order to get into the good books of health-conscious consumers.

Swiss-based company Crisp Sensation has successfully developed a new multi-stage production process for a coating system that can prepare breadcrumbed food in a microwave, combination or conventional oven. The amount of fat in the cooked products is reduced by more than 50%. The multi-layer coating system can be used for deep frozen crispy products such as schnitzels, chicken nuggets, cheese or vegetable sticks and fish fingers, as well as sweet applications.

Indulgence in, fat out
The coating technology creates products with a characteristic bite, which can be described as “light crispness” – crunchy, not hard or tough and without any rancid notes, as the inner core, whether it is chicken, fi sh or cheese, stays juicy. This is achieved due to the water resistant properties of the coating system that protect the core from drying out.
Taste panels and acoustic crunch tests carried out at Wageningen UR, a food and bio-based research facility in the Netherlands, have proved the performance of the coating system. A break and an acoustic crunch tests showed the products maintained their technological and sensory properties after being kept for more than nine months. The coating does not contain flavors, colors, taste enhancers and preservatives, thereby maintaining the authenticity of the ingredients used, which also fulfills the guidelines by European Food Safety Authority and the FDA.

Coating technology
The coating system is created from a type of crumb with a battering system, and a stabilizing agent in a multi-stage manufacturing process. It manages the water in the substrate and the shell, which protects the core from drying out by retaining moisture. The coating system is fat resistant and does not absorb as much fat as conventional coatings do. Also, it does not break during preparation. Depending on the existing production facilities, minor adjustments to the cooling system might be necessary for manufacturers using the technology, since it uses nitrogen freezing. For cost effectiveness, the company and its project partner Air Products offer leasing models for industrial use.

The coating system requires the substrate to stay in the frying tunnel for 2.5 minutes, rather than one minute in conventional methods. Longer conventional tunnels are needed to achieve a throughput of two tons per hour, although leasing models are available. Additionally, there are no additional costs for active packaging using the coating system.

Getting it right
For consumers, cooking deep frozen foods with the coating system simply requires a microwave, combination or conventional oven. They may also fry the products in a pan, although this increases the amount of fat needed than other cooking methods. For preparation in a combination oven, best results are achieved using a “crisp/
grill” function. Even when using a conventional oven, the products have the typical light crispness, as well as juicy and succulent cores.
Such ready prepared snack products maintain their crispness and do not become soggy, even when kept warm for several hours, thereby enabling ready meals to be kept in warming trays without losing quality. As the coating system offers sensorial properties, an easy preparation and reduced fat content in foods, frozen snacks and meals can now provide health and convenience to consumers.

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