Quality Control for Noodle Manufacturers

Noodles and instant noodles are some of the most popular food items for families around the world. White salted (example: Udon) and yellow alkaline wheat flour noodles (example: Ramen) are the two of the most common varieties.

Noodles are often cooked using normal wheat flour rather than Durum wheat semolina or farina, and include salt(s) in combination with flour and water. Starch noodles, which are manufactured mostly from mung bean starch, are also produced in various parts of the world, but they are consumed less often than flour noodles.

Red wheat or white wheat can be used to make noodles. White wheat, on the other hand, has an advantage over red wheat when it comes to creating noodles as the bran specks in white wheat are less noticeable.

Noodles come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with a wide range of manufacturing procedures. However, one procedure that may be regarded as representational is the combining of flour, water and salt, proceeded by rolling and cutting the dough. Following these methods, users may either cook or dry the food.

As the method is relatively straightforward, the quality of the finished product is heavily reliant on flour. To avoid challenges associated with stickiness, it is necessary to have a high water absorption capacity. Furthermore, the dough should have optimal consistency and, above all, adequate extensibility when being rolled.

In addition, as flour protein content increases, noodle firmness increases. Thus, the ideal flour protein for white salty noodles, for example, is les than for yellow alkaline noodles. As the protein concentration of the flour increases, the color of the noodles darkens, and the brightness of the noodles decreases. When cooked, the completed product should have great color, be free of specks, and satisfy customers in terms of texture, consistency and firmness.

To perform effective quality control, it is necessary to identify the important components that influence the final product quality. Although there is a similar knowledge base that may be used, the impact of the mechanics involved varies depending on the manufacturing line.

A more modern approach is for a company to objectively assess what works on its lines and concentrate its quality control efforts on the most critical aspects.

Master the Key Points of the Process

Water Absorption

This is the maximum amount of water that can be added to the flour to give it the plasticity that is required (firmness, extensibility, elasticity).

The dough gets dry, hard and brittle if users do not add enough water; if users add too much, it becomes mushy and sticky. The amount of water that is necessary for noodles is usually rather modest (between 30% and 40%). The quantity of water that any flour can absorb increases with higher levels of protein, damaged starch (particle size), and pentosans.

Water absorption can be measured directly using the Mixolab 2, the Alveolab, and the SRC-CHOPIN 2. Starch damage (SDmatic, SRC-CHOPIN 2), protein levels (NIR: InfraCheck, SpectraStar), and pentosans (SRC-CHOPIN 2) levels can all be used to get a good estimate (SRC-CHOPIN 2).

Dough Consistency

The consistency of the dough is determined by the amount of water used and the flour’s capacity to absorb it. During mixing, the consistency changes to represent the creation of the gluten network. The texture of the dough describes the firmness or hardness of the dough at any particular hydration level.

This is dependent on the quantity and quality of proteins, as well as starch damage and pentosans.

Mixolab 2 or the Alveolab can be used to determine the consistency of the mixture after it has been rolled. Individual measurements of the components that affect consistency are also possible: proteins (NIR, SRC-CHOPIN 2), damaged starch (SDmatic, SRC-CHOPIN 2) and pentosans (SRC-CHOPIN 2).

Quality Control for Noodle Manufacturers

Image Credit: KPM Analytics

Stickiness

When the water supplied to the flour is not correctly absorbed or held by the dough, it results in stickiness. When starch damage or pentosan quantities are too high and protein levels are too low, this problem happens often.

Sticky dough makes rolling and cutting noodles difficult. The SDmatic can test starch damage directly, while NIR devices can evaluate protein levels. The SRC-CHOPIN 2 can evaluate the quality of degraded starch, proteins and pentosans all at once.

Extensibility

This refers to the dough’s ability to stretch without breaking. It is mostly determined by the quality of the protein network for a certain consistency. Dough that is not highly extensible will not spread when rolling; on the other hand, dough that is too extensible will not retain its shape. When using the Alveolab, extensibility is directly monitored.

Elasticity

Elasticity refers to the dough’s ability to return to its original shape after being distorted, such as by rolling. The dough must have a particular amount of elasticity to be machinable. If the elasticity is too low, the dough will not keep its shape; if it is too strong, the dough will tend to retreat, affecting the completed product’s look. The Alveolab is used to assess elasticity directly and exclusively.

Specks

Specks can be found in flours with a high extraction rate. They are directly connected to ash content and suggest bran contamination of white flour. They have an affect on the final product’s hue, making it grayer and less shiny. Researchers want the ash content of noodles to be as low as possible (0.30–0.50%). It can be measured with the right NIR tools (SpectraStar).

Firmness When Cooked

It is critical that the noodles keep their shape when cooking. Starch should not be allowed to escape into the cooking water, since this will cause the noodles to clump together. This is contingent on the best possible isolation of starch granules in the protein matrix. Damaged starches are more likely to leach.

As a result, researchers use the SDmatic to assess flour starch degradation.

Noodle Texture

The Noodle texture is mostly determined by the hardness of the noodles after cooking and the manner in which gelatinization occurs. Some varieties (such as udon) require a greater peak of gelatinization than others.

The Mixolab 2 may be used to analyze the behavior of dough during gelatinization. The SDmatic is used to evaluate starch damage, which alters its gelatinization capacities.

Source: KPM Analytics

Key Point Solutions NIR SDMATIC SRC-CHOPIN ALVEOLAB MIXOLAB 2
Water absorption X X X X X
Stickiness (X) X X    
Dough consistency (X) (X) (X) X X
Extensibility       X  
Elasticity       X  
Specks X        
Firmness when cooked   X     X
Noodle texture   X     X

X: direct measurement. (X): indirect measurement

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by KPM Analytics.

For more information on this source, please visit KPM Analytics.

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