Corn puffs are the go-to snack for most people around the globe. Whether at work, home, or hanging out with friends, you may want to keep your mouth busy with corn puffs.
The variation of flavors makes it equally popular among adults and children. If you want to try making corn puffs at home, you may need cornmeal and a few other ingredients, to begin with. Wondering how are corn puffs made?
Let’s find out together.
Corn Puffs Manufacturing Process
Making corn puffs seems difficult.
You might find it hard to achieve the same texture and flavor as in most markets. What if we tell you that the corn puffs manufacturing process is the opposite of difficult?
Since the primary ingredient is corn, you can make it at home using an extruder.
Extruding machines operate in a thermodynamic environment by altering the ingredients’ pressure, temperature, moisture, and quantity to make corn puffs.
Although the process is simple, you may need to be careful with creating the perfect manufacturing conditions to get your desired corn puff shape.
Here, we have divided the extrusion process into a series of steps to help you out.
Getting Ingredients Ready
Before you begin, arranging the required ingredients and apparatus in a ready-to-use form is vital. Since extrusion is a calculated process, you may not want to make tiny mistakes, leading to improper extrusion of the corn puffs.
Below is the list of the ingredients you need to start the process.
- Plain cornmeal
- Flavors (salt, sweet, spicy, caramel, etc.)
You can also add multiple flavors to get your desired corn puff taste.
Making Cornmeal Paste
Before loading the cornmeal into the extrusion machine, mix it with moderate amounts of water to create a thick cornmeal paste.
While you work on the mixture, you may want to thoroughly ensure that the cornmeal does not leave any solid grains behind. After developing a smooth paste, you can load it into the extruder.
Puffing Cornmeal Paste
Once you load the wet mixture into the extruder, the machine will process it through a die and expose it to high temperatures.
The die in the extrusion machine operates at a specific temperature to convert the moisture present in the cornmeal paste into vapours. The high temperatures and steam conversion create small air puffs in the corn puff to increase its volume.
Your extrusion machine must work under optimal conditions to ensure moisture-steam conversion. Poor die operation or excess water in the cornmeal paste can leave moisture, making it less puffy.
Cutting Corn Puffs
Once your corn puffs achieve the desired texture, the machine cuts them into smaller pieces. You may check the texture and puffiness of the corn puffs once they come out of the die.
If the puffy structure looks wet, it may indicate a problem with the cornmeal paste or extrusion machine.
The machine will cut the puffs into smaller sizes using its rotator blades. If you want to get a custom size, you can alter the settings of the cutter to achieve your desired corn puff forms.
Common corn puff shapes typically include circular, angular, cylindrical, and wavy forms.
Removing Excess Moisture
Once the extrusion machine gives you your desired corn puff shapes, you can proceed to the drying process.
You can use an oven to dry the excess moisture from the corn puffs. While true, you may want to be careful setting the oven’s temperature.
Overheating can lead to the deformation of corn puffs and make them hard.
When they come out of the oven, the corn puffs will have a crispy moisture-free texture. You can check the crispiness by taking a small bite of the puffs. If they seem moist, you can dry them again for a few seconds to remove the excess water.
Adding Desired Flavors
After the drying process, you can proceed to the flavoring part. You can use some of the many flavors to produce batches of corn puffs. If you want to make multiple batches, you can add different flavors to each batch as preferred.
It is vital to remember that adding flavors before drying the corn puffs can ruin the taste and texture.
Typically, sweet flavors like caramel and toffee require extra care while mixing them into corn puff batches. These flavors are more likely to get stickier when mixed. Improper drying of corn puffs can entangle individual corn puffs, making them difficult to eat.
The added flavors may take some time to settle down and dry. You can taste a puff from each batch to ensure the proper flavour mixing. As soon as the puffs dry, you can move on to the packaging process.
Commercial production of corn puff batches requires careful measurements according to the packaging requirements.
When commercially produced, the packaging teams use fill stations to create sealed packs of corn puffs. The packaging machine heats both ends of the pack to conceal the puffs from the external environment.
However, you can use custom packaging for domestic use of corn puffs. It is crucial to store them in a cool, dry place. If left open, your corn puffs may catch moisture and lose their crisp.
You may have noticed ruined textures in some left-over corn snacks at home.
Why Are Corn Puffs Better Than Other Snacks?
Corn puffs have the edge over other snack types due to their manufacturing process. Especially when you compare them to fried snacks or preserved foods, corn puffs have a definite advantage over other light snacks.
Typically, corn-based and other snacks require the use of oils when produced commercially. The excess of oils can lead to several health issues.
When using an extruder, you can effectively minimize the use of oils and preservatives. It uses water instead of oils to develop the puffy shape.
Moreover, you can use natural flavors like spices, sugar coats, caramel, and others to achieve a healthy corn snack.
Furthermore, corn puffs do not use eggs or animal-based fat for production. Since they are highly popular among children and youngsters, excessive consumption does not have alarming side effects.
The absence of eggs and animal fat makes corn puffs ideal for vegetarians.
Corn used in corn puff production is an excellent source of healthy by-products. You can find it in corn syrup, corn flakes, corn meal, cornbread, corn starch, popcorn, corn oil, and many other foods.
All the by-products are popular across the globe for their nutritional values and taste.
Corn Puffs Nutritional Values
If you wonder whether corn puffs have a nutritional effect on the human body, the answer is yes.
Freshly produced corn puffs contain many vital nutrients beneficial for good organ health. You can get amino acids, fatty acids, tocopherols, phenolic compounds, and antioxidants by consuming moderate amounts of corn puffs.
Since the primary source of corn puffs is corn itself, there are many health benefits of corn consumption (1).
Corns are excellent vitamin B1, C, and B5 sources, dietary fibre, manganese, and phosphorus. It is also a great source of pantothenic acid, which plays a vital role in protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism (2).
Corn puff consumption can also improve brain function. It contains thiamine, needed for the production of acetylcholine (3). Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that plays a prominent role in the healthy function of brain cells (4).
The regulation of homocysteine can prevent blood vessel damage and maintain blood sugar levels, minimizing the chances of heart disease (7).
Making Corn Puffs at Home
The corn puff manufacturing process requires an extrusion machine. Since extruders are mostly suitable for commercial production plants, you can use an alternative method to make corn puffs at home.
To start the process, you may need a few extra ingredients to develop the puffy structure of corn puffs. The ingredients include flour, baking powder, water, salt, and flavors.
You can initiate the process by heating oil in a pan at a high temperature. Once done, you can make a dry and wet mixture using the ingredients.
After making the dry ingredients paste, you can create a hole in the centre and add the wet items.
Add the corn kernels into the fritter batter after mixing it, and use a spoon to drop the mixture into the hot oil. You may wait for the corn puffs to cook golden brown. Once done, you can dry the puffs on a paper towel and add flavors to them.
If you want to make corn puffs, you may have to opt for different commercial and home production methods. Commercial manufacturing requires an extrusion machine to make puffs from the wet cornmeal paste.
On the other hand, making corn puffs at home requires using a pan-cooking technique with a few added ingredients.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the ingredients used in making corn puffs?
To make corn puffs by extrusion, you need plain cornmeal, water, and flavours of your choice to begin the process. For home production, you may need to add flour and oil to the list of ingredients.
Are puff corns good for health?
Corn puffs are a great source of vital nutrients, including vitamin B, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, antioxidants, dietary fiber, and manganese.
Are corn puffs better than other snacks?
The corn puff manufacturing process does not require using oils, animal fats, and preservatives. These compounds can lead to health problems when consumed excessively.
Other snacks in the market use preservatives and animal-based fats in manufacturing, making them less healthy to consume.