Wondering how frozen french fries are made? If you are a fan of the show ‘How It’s Made’ you may have a fascination with how our everyday items are made from raw materials.
Here is an overview of the twelve steps that potatoes will go through to transform from a muddy potato to clean, ready-to-cook fry french fries for you to make at home with your family.
Of course, every company will have its own preferred method to prepare the humble potato into what we know as french fries. Although the process will be roughly the same in most factories.
This is typically how are frozen french fries made. I don’t know about you but finding out how some of my favorite foods are made has always been fascinating to me.
Maybe next time you grab your burger and fries you will think about how many steps are involved to get them to your plate.
Farming Potatoes For French Fries
Did you know there are many kinds of potatoes? They are similar but will vary in texture, size, and size.
So what makes the perfect potato for french fries? Most companies use russet potatoes to make frozen french fries.
The russet potato is long and oval in shape which makes for long fries that we most commonly see in shops.
They also make for the crunchiest fry. Plus they hold a low sugar content means that the fries will stay white/pale yellow for longer.
How Frozen French Fries Are Made
Here is a quick rundown on how frozen french fries are made from potato to the products you know and probably have in your freezer.
Step 1 – Washing
The very first thing that happens to the potatoes will be a cleansing process.
Whereby the potatoes will run along with a series of rollers that will rub off foreign particles, such as dirt, soil, plants, or even rocks.
Then the potatoes are washed in a revolving metal cage.
The combination of movement in the turning cage and the powerful water jets used clean the potato skins further.
Step 2 – Sorting
Before the potatoes can be cut into french fries they need to be sorted by size.
Note: This is done by shaking the potatoes through a number of layers of shaking grids, each made with decreasing size slots for the potatoes to fall through.
Therefore, the smallest potatoes will fall to the bottom layer and the largest potatoes will be left at the top.
The large potatoes will make long, stick-like ‘classic’ french fries while the smaller potatoes will be cut to make round or cube shape fries.
Step 3 – Steaming
After sorting, the potatoes are batch-cooked in a ginormous steamer to begin the softening process.
As the steamer is a pressure cooker, each potato only needs 10 seconds to soften enough to move on to the next stage.
Step 4 – Peeling
To the average person, the potato peeling machine will look like a huge clothes dryer. As the skin is soft from step 3 the skins will come off with ease.
The peeler is lined with rollers covered in fine bristles, made of soft nylon. The bristles will remove the skin as the potatoes run along the edge of the machine.
After a few minutes of tumbling in the peeling machine, the potatoes will be white and bare.
This is the most efficient way to peel the potatoes as it is fast and wastes minimal potato flesh.
Step 5 – Human Inspection
After peeling the potatoes can be examined by hand. Workers will toss out any potatoes which do not meet factory requirements.
This includes any product with the skin still intact or green or bruised potatoes.
These potatoes may be manually hand-trimmed to avoid waste or used in other production lines to make other potato-based products.
Step 6 – Chopping
The way the potatoes are are sliced will depend on the factory and what kind of fries they wish to make.
The two most common methods for slicing are: using a mechanical slicer or a hydraulic system, where the potatoes are cut against blades using the pressure of water.
Step 7 – Computer Inspection
To follow on from the human inspection, a high-tech camera will be used to identify which potatoes are not fit to be packaged up.
This is more efficient as the camera can scan hundreds of fries for their size and color.
The camera will pick up on less than quality fries and a jet of powerful air will push it off the conveyor belt.
Who knew a camera was used as part of how frozen french fries are made?
Step 8 – Soaking
All potato fries that make it past inspection are soaked in water. During soaking the sugar in the potato leaves the fry and into the water.
This ensures that all the fries will be the same color when they are cooked and then packaged for consumers.
Step 9 – Blanching
Blanching is how the potatoes will be cooked before packaging. The fries are submerged in hot water and then immediately into cold water.
This step is essential for preserving the french fries and preventing them from going bad in the coming weeks.
Blanching is the best way to firm the potato fresh and get those fluffy french fries we all know and love.
Before the blanching process, the french fries are full of water and therefore the blanching dries them out to leave the firm and prepped for frying.
Step 10 – Frying
The fries are then added to hot non-hydrogenated oil. Typically vegetable oil is used in deep frying.
The potato fries are only fried for a couple of minutes. When they leave the fryer the fries pass along a conveyor belt where the excess oil can drip away.
Step 11 – Freezing
In a giant freezer, the french fries reach temperatures of 5 to -4 degrees Fahrenheit (or -15 to -20 degrees Celsius). The freezing process takes around 10 minutes to freeze.
Of course, the process for fresh french fries will be the same up until this point.
The fresh produce will not be frozen and instead will take a short circuit ticket straight to the kitchen.
However, don’t confuse fresh fries with more nutrients. In fact, frozen french fries are arguably more nutrient-dense.
This in turn means that frozen french fries usually hold more flavor and are typically better tasting.
Step 12 – Packaging
Using a machine the frozen french fries are weighed into batches to be bagged up for sale. They are pushed into the packaging which is usually a plastic bag.
The bags will already have brand information such as the logo, barcode, and instructions printed on them.
The machine then seals the bag and the packages are shipped off to be sold at your local store.
Where you can purchase a bag and cook the potatoes to achieve perfect fries at home.
It goes without saying that this 12 step process will vary for each brand of french fries and will depend on the type of potatoes used and what the end result is supposed to be.
Although the process is largely the same for most household-named brands.
Now that you’ve known the answer on how frozen french fries are made, head on now to the nearest store!
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