Nov 28, 2023

Potato Characteristics that Impact Peeling for Chips

Discover the factors that affect potato chip peeling and the importance of peeling equipment that is optimized for high-volume manufacturing. Learn more.

Effective potato peeling is a critical first step in potato chip production. The quality and completeness of peel removal can impact product attributes and process efficiency downstream. However, not all potatoes peel with the same ease and completeness.

Many different innate aspects and external post-harvest factors can affect the outcome. Understanding how they influence peeling allows chip manufacturers to tailor their potato peeling equipment to ensure a high-quality product.

Read on to learn more about the various characteristics affecting potato processing.

Potato Age: Fresh vs. Stored

Freshly harvested potatoes have thinner, softer peels -- sometimes so soft that they can be peeled off with a fingernail. Gentle roller and brush textures prevent tearing these tender skins during processing. A delicate touch ensures minimal peel waste and flesh loss.

Operators can reduce roller speeds and utilize less aggressive roller textures. Such precautions prevent over-peeling the thin skin. Without them, it becomes easy to grind away good flesh and lose yield.

In contrast, potatoes stored long-term develop tougher, thicker peels. The hardened skins demand rigorous peeling setups to remove. More durable and aggressive rolls, faster roll speeds, more bed depth, and longer retention times are needed to peel off the layers efficiently.

However, it’s essential to have an industrial potato peeling machine that can balance the increased equipment aggressiveness to prevent unnecessary flesh loss. Low-quality peelers may not have the settings required to fine-tune this process.

Vanmark 2920 peeler/scrubber/washer for potato chip processing

Seasonality and Geography

Seasonality determines whether processors utilize fresh or stored potato crops. During peak regional harvest periods of late summer and early fall, facilities process potatoes freshly dug from local fields and farms. Processors switch to potatoes stockpiled in climate-controlled storage facilities in the off-season winter and spring months.

Geographic growing conditions like climate, soil moisture, and soil composition also affect peel properties. Certain heavy clay soils common to the upper Midwest and Canada can deposit minerals and sediments onto potato peels, complicating the peeling process later.

Excessively wet soils also produce potatoes with peels that tend to peel off in layers rather than whole pieces. Growing conditions and dirt in a region impact potatoes' chemical composition and intrinsic peel characteristics.

Transportation Effects

Potato deterioration resulting from long transportation distances generally does not impact domestic processing operations. This is due to most plants utilizing crops grown in their surrounding region or stored locally before use.

However, shipments traversing thousands of miles may require adjustments to account for thickened, defective peels upon arrival. Effective quality control measures during loading and periodic inspections mid-transit can help minimize transportation-related crop damage.

Potato Type

Potato peel properties and peelability vary significantly between species. Uniform tuber size and shape enable even, efficient peeling across a production batch. However, potato species have innate differences in peel strength and thickness.

For example, red-skinned potatoes have thin, weak skins that you can easily peel. In contrast, russet varieties have thick, rugged peels requiring aggressive peeling parameters. Processors must select potato species suited to their desired end product texture and attributes.

Potato Chip Considerations

Russet and Idaho potato varieties work best for chips. Their higher starch content provides the ideal crisp texture and rigid bite. The potatoes should also have the proper water content before frying. Too much moisture can lead to excess steam and bubble formation during frying.

Some potato chip manufacturers develop customized potato varieties tailored to their production needs. For example, Frito-Lay uses proprietary Russets grown from specialized seed stock developed by their food scientists. They’re drier and grainier than the Russets, Yukon Golds, and Red potatoes found in grocery stores.

Size and Shape

Uniform size and shape ensure that all potatoes in a production run get peeled evenly. Consistent tuber dimensions allow peelers to remove equal skin layers across all potatoes in the batch.

Irregular shapes prevent thorough peeling, as peel can remain trapped in contours and valleys. Peeling out all skin from the low areas means over-peeling the higher spots and ultimately grinding away good flesh.

Chipping applications perform best with round potatoes. Their uniform spherical shape ensures uniform slice profiles and even cooking. Conversely, oblong or obtriangular potatoes yield less consistent chips.

Vanmark's 1826 peeler/scrubber/washer perfectly peels potatoes for processing.

Desired Texture

The final product needs will dictate the ideal residual potato texture post-peeling. Thorough peeling eliminates defects but risks excess flesh removal. Conservative peeling preserves flesh but leaves imperfections. Processors must balance these factors using test batches and peel inspections.

For instance, potato chip manufacturers aim for a smooth, peeled finish rather than a fluffy tennis-ball texture. This requires less aggressive brushes, compensating via other peeler settings. Examining peeled samples enables fine-tuning the aggressiveness and other variables over time. Optimization removes all peel without wasting good flesh or compromising end product quality.

Vanmark Peeling Equipment

Vanmark designs and manufactures specialized abrasive peeling equipment optimized for high-volume potato processing. Our industrial potato peelers combine washing, scrubbing, and peeling functions in a single efficient machine.

Key benefits of Vanmark potato peelers include high throughput capacity from 4,000 to 20,000 lbs/hr, stainless steel durability, and ease of maintenance. Adjustable components like roller speed, nip gap, and bed depth enable customization for specific potato types and desired peel smoothness.

Vanmark peelers are also easy to quickly and thoroughly sanitize. An optional Clean in Place (CIP) System automatically cleans the rolls and peeler bed during production and sanitation. This innovative system reduces downtime and the need for manual cleaning.

Advanced options such as a water reduction system can significantly reduce freshwater usage by up to 90%. For example, the Vanmark Water Reclamation System recycles process water from abrasive peelers in a closed loop to minimize wastewater production. This sustainability solution also decreases water treatment costs through an integrated filtration system.

Optimize Your Peeling Process with Vanmark

The right balance of favorable potato characteristics and high-quality peeling equipment helps to ensure a great potato chip. At Vanmark, we can customize our potato peelers to meet your specific processes or needs.

In addition to peeling, we also manufacture washing, cutting, storage, and transferring equipment. Click below to explore our entire line of potato processing machines to improve efficiency, quality, and yields.

See Our Potato Processing Equipment



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