Pretzels can be filled with meat, cheese, chocolate, peanut butter and a long list of other fillings. These products are typically coextruded, bathed in a caustic bath and then either fried or baked. Much of the process’ success relies on stable fillings and consistent doughs. Moisture content is of the utmost importance.
“When you bake a filled product that has been sealed, you have to pay attention to the moisture content of the filling,” said John Giacoio, vice-president of sales, Rheon USA. “It needs to be oven-stable, low moisture.”
If the filling isn’t oven-stable, it becomes more liquid and boils. At best, manufacturers will have to deal with leaks at that point. At worst, they are experiencing product blowouts in the oven. Both create not only a mess but also a fire hazard.
“A peanut butter nugget, with its thin pretzel wall on the outside and its nice charge of peanut butter on the interior, is quite delicate and requires a rather gentle baking process,” said John Eshelman, director, pretzel and snack machinery sales, Reading Bakery Systems (RBS). “You can imagine if they start to blowout for whatever reason, it really does make a mess in your oven.”
While moisture content and dough consistency are largely formulating issues, a coextruder can help pretzel producers manage production and provide accurately filled products, consistent dough flow and proper sealing.