Cut From the Head

There are 2 types of methods for producing unfried tortilla chips, Hand Cut and Machine Cut.

The initial process for both are the same. Corn is cooked with lime water for about an hour. The soaked for approximately 8. Once steeped, the water is drained and fed into a volcanic stone grinder. The grinder produces masa. The masa is rolled into large balls. The masa is put into a mixer along with corn flour (Maseca), water, and preservative. The preservative has 2 main ingredients. An acid to lower the pH and mold inhibitor. The mold inhibitor will only work at a low pH of 5. 7 is neutral.

The masa is fed onto a pre-sheeter that flattens the masa into a curtain. Then the masa curtain is fed into the secondary sheeter that flattens it into a much thinner curtain. There the masa is “tortilla” thin and cut underneath with a cutter in the shape of a roller. Very similar to a rolling cookie cutter.

Here is where the differences occur

MACHINE CUT

The cutter here is already “chip” shaped. Either 4 or 6 cut. 

Once the raw masa is sheeted then cut it goes into an oven (rolling/moving flat griddle) where the “chips” are baked. Once baked the product goes through a multi-tiered cooling conveyor on to a narrower conveyor, tumbler, bagged, weighed, check weighed, sealed and palletized.

HAND CUT

Instead of pre-cut into chips, the masa is cut into 6″ diameter “whole” tortillas. These whole raw tortillas go into the oven (rolling/moving flat griddle) where they are baked, cooled through a multi-tiered conveyor, machine counted and stacked, then placed in bread trays to cool. Once cooled they are they are placed on a round stationary cross bladed cutter. A piston pushes the tortilla stack through the stationary cutter cutting them into 4 triangular “chips”. The “chips” are further separated in a revolving tumbler to unclump them. The separated chips are bagged, weighed, check weighed, sealed, and palletized.

The above is HAND CUT and below is MACHINE CUT.

There are pros and cons to both.

MACHINE CUT

Pro’s

  • Identical size “chips”
  • More efficiently produced
  • Safer to produce
  • Less susceptible to contamination.

Con’s

  • If not properly cooled, they are prone to be packed with high moisture with potential crinkling.
  • All sides are thicker

 

 

 

 

HAND CUT

Pro’s

  • The bread tray process allows the product to “flatten” more and reduce moisture
  • Only one side is “thick” allowing the other two to “breath” and fry better
  • Generally a much higher quality chip

Con’s

  • More labor intensive because of the nature of this process it must be handled twice.
  • More susceptible to contamination
  • Chips are different sizes

 

 

This entry was posted in Work. Bookmark the permalink.