PURCHASE, N.Y. – Frito-Lay North America has filed an international patent for a system designed to reduce the amount of oil in both traditional potato chips and kettle potato chips. Traditional potato chips made by a continuous-frying process typically have oil contents ranging from 34% to 38% oil by weight, and batch-fried kettle chips have an oil content of about 30%. F.L.N.A., a business of PepsiCo, Inc., said through its system it is possible for processed potato chips to have a final oil content of less than 18% by weight.

The system includes pre-treatment, fryer treatment and post-treatment.

The pre-treatment “hot potato” method involves submerging whole-peeled potatoes in hot water with temperatures of 130 degrees Fahrenheit (about 54 degrees Celsius) to 140 degrees F (about 60 degrees C). It is believed the “hot potato” method reduces the final product’s oil content by gelatinizing starch and altering pectin structure, which brings about a matrix on the surface of the potato slices that hinders oil from permeating into the potato slices during the initial frying stages.

The fryer treatment involves manipulating the temperature-time profile in the fryer. The inventors found oil content may be reduced through a steeper, faster temperature drop when the potato slices enter the fryer. The temperature drop may be followed by exposure of about 3 to 8 minutes in a temperature range of about 220 degrees F (104 degrees C) to about 260 degrees F (127 degrees C).

The post-treatment method uses superheated steam at 300 degrees F (149 degrees C) to further reduce oil content. The superheated steam method, according to F.L.N.A., does not have the drawbacks of another post-treatment method, saturated steam, which increases moisture content in potato chips.