Title:
High moisture, smooth-textured shaped cereal foods
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention teaches how to make high moisture shaped cereal foods from cereal flour and fluid-milk and/or water; said cereal foods having a higher than 40% moisture content, a thin surface skin, and a soft, smooth, homogenous interior texture. The shaped cereal and milk foods of the present invention taste similar to the traditional cereal and milk that have always been consumed from a bowl with a spoon while also having the added benefit of being able to be eaten hand-held, on-the-go. The process of the present invention can also be used to make high moisture rice fries from rice flour and water. Having a higher than 40% moisture content is important because it provides the moisture and lubricity that both fat-fried and oven-baked rice fries products need.

In the process of the present invention, cereal grains from one cereal genera or mixtures of different cereal genera are milled into a cereal flour. Fluid-milk and/or water is then infused into the starch granules of the cereal flour at temperatures above 170 F inside a cooker until the fluid-infused cereal flour thickens into a viscous, smooth and homogenous consistency. Additional food ingredients that impart flavor, color, water-binding and freeze-thaw stability properties to the finished product can also be infused into the cereal flour. Outside the cooker and with the retained heat and fluid from the cooking step, the starch granules of the fluid-infused cereal flour continue to both absorb some of the retained fluid and increase to a viscosity that is thick and firm enough to maintain a formed shape. Said fluid-infused cereal flour is then formed into shaped units with low-shear forming systems or cut into individual units with cutters. The individual units are spaced apart in a mono-layer before they are conveyed into either a continuous fat-fryer or oven which further heat the units thereby fully gelatinizing the starch granules of the fluid-infused cereal flour and developing a thin surface skin while retaining a higher than 40% moisture level and a soft, smooth, homogenous interior texture.




Inventors:
Zukerman, Harold W. (Northbrook, IL, US)
Zukerman, Rachel B. (Northbrook, IL, US)
Application Number:
10/189830
Publication Date:
01/08/2004
Filing Date:
07/08/2002
Assignee:
Healthy Grain Foods LLC
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A23L1/164; (IPC1-7): A23L1/168
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
HEGGESTAD, HELEN F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Harold W. Zukerman (4125 W. YORKSHIRE LANE, Northbrook, IL, 60062, US)
Claims:

We claim:



1. A process for making high moisture shaped cereal foods from cereal flour and fluid-milk; said cereal foods having a higher than 40% moisture content, a thin surface skin, and a smooth, homogenous interior texture; said process is comprised of: a) milling cereal grains into a cereal flour; b) infusing fluid-milk into the starch granules of the cereal flour at temperatures above 170 F inside a cooker and then discharging from said cooker the fluid-milk-infused cereal flour when it has absorbed most of the fluid milk and thickens into a viscous, smooth and homogenous consistency; c) making units comprised of the viscous, smooth and homogenous fluid-milk-infused cereal flour of b) after the viscosity of said fluid-milk-infused cereal flour thickens and firms enough to maintain a formed shape; d) heating the shaped units of c) at temperatures above 275 F to fully gelatinize the starch granules of the fluid-milk-infused cereal flour and develop a thin surface skin while retaining a moisture content that is higher than 40% and a smooth, homogenous interior texture.

2. The process set forth in claim 1 wherein one to three pounds of a fluid-milk are infused into each pound of dry cereal flour.

3. The process set forth in claim 1 wherein the fluid-milk is comprised of: water, full-fat fluid-milk, low-fat fluid-milk, fat-free fluid-milk, buttermilk, concentrated milk diluted with water or powdered milk diluted with water, or combinations thereof.

4. The process of claim 1 wherein cereal flour is made by milling cereal grains selected from the group consisting of: corn, oats, rice, wheat, barley, rye and combinations thereof.

5. The process set forth in claim 1 which further comprises adding to the cooker, food ingredients selected from the group consisting of: food flavors, food colors, gums, salt, sugar, fat, oil, butter, cheese, nutritional supplements, powdered whey, whey proteins, powdered milk proteins, monoglycerides, lecithin, calcium stearoyl-2-lactylate or combinations thereof.

6. The process set forth in claim 1 which further comprises premixing the cereal flour with selected food ingredients before said cereal flour is metered into the cooker.

7. The process set forth in claim 1 wherein low-shear scraper agitators are used to agitate and convey the cereal flour as it is infused with the hot fluid-milk in a continuous cooker.

8. The process set forth in claim 1 which further comprises the absorption of fluid-milk retained from the cooking step into the starch granules of the fluid-milk-infused cereal flour as said fluid-milk infused cereal flour continues to increase in viscosity.

9. The process of claim 1 whereby shaped units are made by cutting a sheet of the smooth and homogenous fluid-milk-infused cereal flour after its viscosity thickens and firms enough to maintain a formed shape.

10. The process of claim 1 whereby shaped units are made by depositing continuous ribbons of fluid-milk-infused cereal flour from a double-roll former after its viscosity thickens and firms enough to maintain a formed shape; said deposited continuous ribbons are then cut into units.

11. The process of claim 1 which further comprises arranging the units of fluid-milk-infused cereal flour in a mono-layer, with spaces between said units after they are formed and before they are heated.

12. The process of claim 1 which comprises oven-baking the shaped units at temperatures above 275 F. in a continuous hot-air oven to fully gelatinize the starch granules of the fluid-milk-infused cereal flour and develop a light-golden-brown surface color and a thin skin on the units' surfaces while retaining a moisture level higher than 40% and a smooth, homogenous interior texture.

13. The process of claim 1 which comprises fat-frying the shaped cereal units at about 350 F. in a continuous fat-fryer to fully gelatinize the starch granules of the fluid-milk-infused cereal flour and develop a light golden-brown surface color and a thin skin on the units surface while retaining a moisture level higher than 40%, and a smooth, homogenous interior texture.

14. The process of claim 1 which further comprises rapidly freezing the units.

15. A process for making high moisture shaped rice foods from rice flour and water; said rice foods having a higher than 40% moisture content, a thin surface skin, and a smooth, homogenous interior texture; said process is comprised of: a) milling rice grains into a rice flour; b) infusing water into the starch granules of the rice flour at temperatures above 170 F inside a cooker and then discharging from said cooker the water-infused rice flour when it has absorbed most of the water and thickens into a viscous, smooth and homogenous consistency; c) making units comprised of the viscous, smooth and homogenous water-infused rice flour of b) after the viscosity of said water-infused rice flour thickens and firms enough to maintain a formed shape; d) heating the shaped units of c) at temperatures above 275 F. to fully gelatinize the starch granules of the water-infused rice flour and develop a thin surface skin while retaining a moisture level higher than 40%, and a smooth, homogenous interior texture.

16. The process set forth in claim 15 wherein one to three pounds of water are infused into each pound of dry rice flour.

17. The process set forth in claim 15 which further comprises adding to the cooker, food ingredients selected from the group consisting of: food flavors, food colors, gums, salt, spices, herbs, sugar, fat, oil, butter, cheese, nutritional supplements, powdered whey, whey proteins, powdered milk proteins, monoglycerides, lecithin, calcium stearoyl-2-lactylate or combinations thereof.

18. The process set forth in claim 15 which further comprises pre-mixing the rice flour with selected food ingredients before said rice flour is moved into the cooker.

19. The process set forth in claim 15 wherein low-shear scraper agitators are used to agitate and convey the rice flour as it is infused with the hot water in a continuous cooker.

20. The process set forth in claim 15 which further comprises the absorption of water retained from the cooking step into the starch granules of the water-infused rice flour as said water-infused rice flour continues to increase in viscosity.

21. The process of claim 15 whereby shaped rice units are made by cutting a sheet of the smooth and homogenous water-infused rice flour after the viscosity of said water-infused rice flour thickens and firms enough to maintain a formed shape.

22. The process of claim 15 whereby shaped rice units are made by depositing continuous ribbons of water-infused rice flour from a double-roll former after the viscosity of said water-infused rice flour thickens and firms enough to maintain a formed shape; said deposited continuous ribbons are then cut into units with cutters.

23. The process of claim 15 which further comprises arranging the units of water-infused rice flour in a mono-layer, with spaces between said units after they are formed and before they are heated.

24. The process of claim 15 which comprises fat-frying the shaped rice units at about 350 F in a continuous fat-fryer to fully gelatinize the starch granules of the water-infused rice flour and develop a light golden-brown surface color and a thin skin on the units surface while retaining a moisture level higher than 40%, and a smooth, homogenous interior texture.

25. The process of claim 15 which comprises oven-baking the shaped units at temperatures above 275 F in a continuous hot-air oven to fully gelatinize the starch granules of the water-infused cereal flour and develop a light-golden-brown surface color and a thin skin on the units' surfaces while retaining a moisture level higher than 40% and a smooth, homogenous interior texture.

26. The process of claim 15 which further comprises rapidly freezing the units.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] Traditional hot and cold cereals have always been a “fluid” combination consumed from a bowl with a spoon. Because of recent consumer changes in eating habits, many consumers who used to eat their hot or cold cereal and milk from a bowl with a spoon at a sit-down breakfast at home are now choosing to pick up their breakfast on-the-go from fast-food restaurants and eat it hand-held en route to work or school. Traditionally, fast-food restaurants sell the two components that make the cereal and milk combination: dry, low-density cereal flakes packaged in small plastic-lined cardboard boxes and small cartons of refrigerated fluid-milk. The problem is that the traditional “fluid” cereal and milk breakfast sold at fast-food restaurants is not a portable food. It is very difficult and messy to eat from a small plastic lined cardboard cereal container with a small plastic spoon when driving or being a passenger in a moving car. It is an object of the present invention to provide a cereal and milk food that tastes like the traditional cereal and milk breakfast but can be consumed hand-held while on-the-go.

[0002] The prior art teaches how to make “dry” cereal products i.e. dry cereal bars, sport bars and diet bars from a cereal flour dough that also contains dry milk solids. The prior art also teaches how to make granola bar snacks whereby low-density, dry, puffed cereal pieces and dry rolled oats, nuts and chocolate chips are joined to each other with a thick syrup binder. Both the dry cereal bars and the granola bars have less than 10% moisture in the finished products.

[0003] The prior art also teaches how to make “intermediate moisture” products i.e. cereal bars, sport bars and diet bars from a cereal flour dough that contains a high sugar and/or glycerin content and dry milk solids; said intermediate moisture cereal bars are soft and moist from the added high glycerin and sugar syrups, but have less than about 35% moisture in the finished products.

[0004] U.S. Pat. No. 3,711,295 teaches a process for making shaped rice products from rice grains. U.S. Pat. No. 6,103,208 teaches a process for making cereal and milk food products having visible cereal grains. U.S. Pat. No. 4,764,390 teaches how to make microwavable shaped rice products having visible rice grains.

[0005] The prior art also teaches how to make the dry cereal component of the traditional cereal and milk breakfast. The dry cereal component is made by extruding a mixture of dry cereal flour and a small amount of water through a high shear, fast rotating, screw-type extruder that cooks the cereal flour, puffs their texture and forms their shape. The cereal component is then dried to less than 10% moisture.

[0006] A prior art process for making rice fries from rice flour and water was developed by the USDA-ARS in New Orleans, La. and published in the Journal of Food Science Vol. 66 No. 4, 2001 page. 610. The USDA teaches a process for extruding rice flour together with a comparatively small amount of water through a high shear, fast rotating screw-type extruder to form rice fries strands which are then fat-fried. According to this referenced article, the USDA process is able to make rice fries strands with less than 40% moisture which when fat-fried, produces finished products i.e. par-fried rice fries having 20%-30% moisture.

[0007] The present invention teaches how to make high moisture shaped cereal foods from cereal flour and fluid-milk and/or water; said cereal foods having a higher than 40% moisture content, a thin surface skin, and a soft, smooth, homogenous interior texture. The shaped cereal and milk foods of the present invention taste similar to the traditional cereal and milk that have always been consumed from a bowl with a spoon while also having the added benefit of being able to be eaten hand-held, on-the-go. The process of the present invention can also be used to make high moisture rice fries from rice flour and water. Having a higher than 40% moisture content is important because it provides the moisture and lubricity that both fat-fried and oven-baked rice fries products need.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] The present invention teaches how to make high moisture shaped cereal foods from cereal flour and fluid-milk and/or water; said cereal foods having a higher than 40% moisture content, a thin surface skin, and a soft, smooth, homogenous interior texture. The shaped cereal and milk foods of the present invention taste similar to the traditional cereal and milk that have always been consumed from a bowl with a spoon while also having the added benefit of being able to be eaten hand-held, on-the-go. The process of the present invention can also be used to make high moisture rice fries from rice flour and water. Having a higher than 40% moisture content is important because it provides the moisture and lubricity that both fat-fried and oven-baked rice fries products need.

[0009] In the first step of the process, cereal grains from one cereal genera, or as an option, mixtures of different cereal genera are milled into a cereal flour which is then pre-blended with added oil and dry food ingredients. The pre-blending of the cereal flour with oil and/or powdered ingredients is done to prevent clumping that would otherwise occur when cereal flour and hot liquid are mixed together. The fluid-milk and/or water component can be prepared by first blending the milk and water together and heating the mixture to temperatures above 170 F. If a starch-complexing agent is used, it could be mixed into the fluid-milk and/or water mixture before said fluid is metered into the continuous cooker.

[0010] In the second step of the process, the dry cereal flour and the fluid-milk and/or water are separately metered, at the ratio of one pound of dry cereal flour to one to three pounds of fluid-milk and/or water, into a stainless steel continuous cooker having low-shear scraped surface agitators. The fluid-milk and/or water is very rapidly, within a few minutes, absorbed into the cereal flour at temperatures above 170 F until the resulting fluid-infused cereal flour becomes viscous, smooth and homogenous. Additional food ingredients that impart flavor, color, water-binding and freeze-thaw stability properties to the finished product can also be infused into the cereal flour. The starch-complexing agents impart freeze-thaw stability properties to the finished product, complex the cereal starch, help to uniformly disperse the fat and add lubricity to the mixture so the hydrated cereal flour doesn't stick to the equipment. Also, the milk proteins, cereal starch and added gums are good water-binders that synergistically help develop the viscous, soft and smooth textured, fluid-infused cereal flour.

[0011] When the fluid-infused cereal flour thickens into a viscous, smooth and homogeneous consistency, it is continuously discharged from the cooker while it is still hot and fluid and deposited onto a moving conveyor belt where it accumulates as a thick sheet. With the retained heat and fluid from the cooking step, the starch granules of the fluid-infused cereal flour continue to absorb fluid retained with said fluid-infused cereal flour and continue to increases in viscosity until said fluid-infused cereal flour thickens and firms enough to maintain a formed shape. In the third step of the process, shaped units are formed with low-shear forming systems or by cutting the sheet of thickened and firmed, fluid-infused cereal flour into individual units with cutters. In the fourth step of the process, the individual units are arranged as a mono-layer with spaces between said individual units before they are conveyed into a continuous fat-fryer or oven to further heat the units in order to fully-gelatinize the starch granules of the fluid-infused cereal flour and develop a light golden-brown thin surface skin on the units' surfaces while retaining a moisture level higher than 40% and a smooth, homogenous interior texture.

[0012] It is an object of the present invention to provide a process for making high moisture shaped cereal foods from cereal flour and fluid-milk. These cereal foods have moisture contents that are higher than 40% and smooth and homogenous textures. Said cereal and milk products taste similar to traditional cereal and milk that has always been consumed from a bowl with a spoon while also having the added benefit of being able to be consumed hand-held on-the-go.

[0013] Another object of the present invention is to provide a process for making high moisture shaped rice foods such as rice fries, from rice flour and water. Said rice fries have a moisture content that is higher than 40% and a smooth and homogenous texture. Having a higher than 40% moisture content is important because it provides the moisture and lubricity that both fat-fried and oven-baked rice fries products need.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0014] The present invention teaches how to make high moisture shaped cereal foods from cereal flour and fluid-milk and/or water; said cereal foods having a higher than 40% moisture content, a thin surface skin, and a soft, smooth, homogenous interior texture. The shaped cereal and milk foods of the present invention taste similar to the traditional cereal and milk that have always been consumed from a bowl with a spoon while also having the added benefit of being able to be eaten hand-held, on-the-go. The process of the present invention can also be used to make high moisture rice fries from rice flour and water. Having a higher than 40% moisture content is important because it provides the moisture and lubricity that both fat-fried and oven-baked rice fries products need.

[0015] In the first step of the process, cereal grains from one cereal genera or mixtures of different cereal genera are milled into a cereal flour. The cereal flour can be selected from the group consisting of: corn flour, oat flour, rice flour, wheat flour, barley flour, rye flour, and combinations thereof. The cereal flour can also be cooked together with additional food ingredients that impart flavor, color, water binding and freeze-thaw stability properties to the finished product. When additional food ingredients are added to the product, the cereal flour and the other ingredients could be pre-blended. This pre-blending will prevent the small cereal flour particles from clumping when said cereal flour and hot liquid are later merged in the cooker. The additional food ingredients can be selected from the group consisting of: food flavors, colors, gums, salt, sugar, herbs, spices, cheese, powdered whey, powdered milk proteins, caseinates, whey protein concentrate, vegetable oil, nutritional supplements, and starch-complexing agents or combinations thereof. The starch complexing agents impart freeze-thaw stability properties to the finished product, complex the cereal starch, help to uniformly disperse the fat and add lubricity to the mixture so the hydrated cereal flour doesn't stick to the equipment. Also, the milk proteins, cereal starch and added gums are good water-binders that synergistically help develop the viscous, soft and smooth-textured, milk-infused cereal flour.

[0016] The fluid-milk component can be selected from the group consisting of water, full-fat fluid-milk, low-fat fluid-milk, fat-free fluid-milk, concentrated milk diluted with water, buttermilk, condensed milk diluted with water, powdered milk diluted with water, or combinations thereof.

[0017] In the second step of the process, the cereal flour component (which can be comprised of cereal flour pre-blended with oil and the dry ingredients of the formula) and the fluid-milk and/or water component (which is preheated to temperatures above 170 F before it is added to the cooker) are separately metered, at the ratio of one pound of dry cereal flour to one to three pounds of fluid-milk and/or water, into an enclosed stainless steel continuous cooker equipped with low-shear scraped-surface agitators. During the cooking process inside the cooker, at temperatures above 170 F, the cereal flour very rapidly absorbs most of the fluid-milk and/or water within a few minutes and thickens into a fluid-infused cereal flour with a viscous smooth and homogenous consistency. The scraped-surface agitators used in the cooker are needed to both continuously scrape the sides of the cooker to prevent burn-on and also move the fluid-infused cereal flour from the cooker's entrance towards its discharge. As soon as the fluid-infused cereal flour is thickens, it is continuously discharged from the cooker onto a moving conveyor as a viscous, smooth and homogeneous sheet. The starch granules of the discharged fluid-infused cereal flour continue to both absorb some of the fluid that was retained with the fluid-infused cereal flour and also continue to increase in viscosity until the fluid-infused cereal flour thickens and firms enough to maintain a formed shape. It is then ready to be formed into shaped units with low-shear forming equipment in the next step of the process.

[0018] In a preferred embodiment of the invention, sufficient fluid has to be infused into the cereal flour so that the finished product, after fat-frying or oven-baking and freezing, will have a higher than 40% moisture content. Three criteria help to determine the amount of fluid that has to be infused into the cereal flour: first, the finished product should have a finished moisture content of more than 40%; second, in addition to the more than 40% moisture, additional fluid has to be added to compensate for the moisture loss that occurs during the processing steps of cooking, forming the shaped units, oven-baking or fat-frying, freezing and frozen storage; and finally, if oven-baked products are made, even more fluid has to be added to provide the needed moisture and lubricity to prevent the products from becoming very dry in taste and texture.

[0019] In another embodiment of the present invention, infusing the comparatively large amount of fluid into the very small particles of the dry cereal flour has to be conducted in a manner that does not destroy all of the starch granules by either bursting them with over-hydration with the infusing fluid or mechanically shearing the starch granules of the fluid-infused cereal flour with high-shear mechanical mixing or forming equipment. Several techniques are used to slow down the infusion rate so the absorption into the starch granules can be better controlled. The two-step fluid-infusion process of the present invention was designed to infuse most of the water into the cereal flour at temperatures above 170 F inside the cooker. Said fluid-infused cereal flour should be discharged onto a conveyor outside the cooker before most of the starch granules become fully-hydrated and fully-gelatinized. The second step of the fluid-infusion process which occurs outside the cooker, is controlled by having the starch granules of the fluid-infused cereal flour continue to absorb fluid but at a much slower rate and over a longer period of time and at a lower temperature. Another technique for slowing down the absorption rate of fluid into cereal flour is by milling the cereal grains to a coarsely-milled cereal flour rather than a finely-milled cereal flour. However, both finely-milled and coarsely-milled cereal flours have been used to produce satisfactory products. Coating the cereal flour particles with an oil also slows down the absorption rate of the fluid into the cereal flour.

[0020] In the third step of the process, the shaped units are formed with low-shear forming systems or cut into units with cutters when the fluid-infused cereal flour becomes thickened and firmed.

[0021] One way to form the shaped units is by using a low-shear former like a double-roll former, having a multiple hole die-plate at its discharge end. The die-plate is coated with a Teflon-like coating and has multiple holes in a row along the entire length of the double-roll former, said holes are separated by small spaces between the holes. With comparatively low pressure, the double-roll former deposits multiple ribbons of fluid-infused cereal flour onto the entire width of a belt conveyor. A guillotine cutter is then used to cut the parallel rows of deposited continuous ribbons into 2-3 inch long rice fries shaped units. Double-roll formers and cutters are well-known in the art and commercially available.

[0022] A second way to form the shaped units is by depositing the fluid-infused cereal flour from the continuous cooker onto a conveyor belt as a sheet with a selected sheet thickness. The starch granules of the fluid-infused cereal flour continue to absorb the fluid that was retained with said fluid-infused cereal flour until the viscosity of said fluid-infused cereal flour thickens and firms enough to retain a formed shape. The sheet of thickened and firmed, fluid-infused cereal flour is then cut into bar-shaped units with rotary and guillotine cutters. Cutters are well-known in the art and commercially available.

[0023] In the fourth step of the process, the shaped units are separated on the conveyor belt as a mono-layer with a small space between said units. This separation is necessary because the units are sticky and can become stuck to each other in the fat-fryer or oven. However, once the units are oven-baked or fat-fried and develop a surface skin, said units are no longer sticky and will not become stuck to each other.

[0024] Oven-baking the units between about 300 F and 400 F in a continuous hot-air oven is one way to heat the units and fully gelatinize the starch granules of the fluid-infused cereal flour and develop a thin, light-golden-brown colored surface skin on the units' surface while retaining said units' higher than 40% moisture, and viscous, smooth and homogenous interior texture. Ovens are well-known in the art and commercially available.

[0025] Another way to heat the units to fully-gelatinize the starch granules of the fluid-infused cereal flour and develop a thin, light-golden-brown colored surface skin on the units' surface while retaining said units' higher than 40% moisture, viscous, smooth and homogenous interior texture is by continuously fat-frying the units at about 350-400 F. in a continuous fat-fryer. Fat-fryers are well-known in the art and commercially available.

[0026] If desired, the oven-baked or fat-fried units can then be rapidly frozen to temperatures below 0 F. Freezing can be done with either cold air, liquid nitrogen, or liquid carbon dioxide. Freezers are well-known in the art and are commercially available.

[0027] The following examples will further illustrate the invention, but it is not intended that the invention be limited to the details set forth therein:

EXAMPLE 1

[0028] Example 1 teaches a process for making high-moisture oven-baked cereal and fluid-milk cereal bars having a thin surface skin surrounding a smooth and homogeneous interior texture. In this example, fluid milk, which was prepared by reconstituting non-fat dry milk solids with water, is infused into four cereal flours. 1

Formula: High Moisture, Smooth and Homogenous Textured
“Milk & Cereal” Bars
IngredientsPer Cent
Water63.90
Non fat dry milk solids3.85
Corn flour5.00
Brown rice flour5.00
Wheat flour5.00
Oat flour5.00
Sucrose3.00
Brown Sugar3.00
Flavor3.00
Color0.05
Salt0.50
Vegetable oil2.50
Mono glycerides0.15
Lecithin0.05
Total:100.00

[0029] Process: High-Moisture, Smooth and Homogenous Textured Milk & Cereal Bars

[0030] In the first step of the process, the oats, corn wheat and rice grains are milled into a coarse cereal flour which is then pre-mixed with the added oil and dry powdered ingredients. The fluid-milk component is prepared from a mixture of non-fat dry milk solids and water. The starch-complexing agents are dispersed into the fluid-milk component and preheated to 180 F. Both the pre-mixed cereal flour component and the preheated fluid-milk component are separately metered into an enclosed stainless steel continuous cooker equipped with low-shear scraped-surface agitators. The fluid-milk and the cereal flour are merged and then cooked together at about 180 F inside the cooker. The fluid-milk-infused cereal flour is discharged from said cooker and accumulates as a sheet onto a conveyor belt when it has absorbed most of the fluid-milk and thickens into a viscous, smooth and homogeneous consistency. The starch granules of the fluid-milk-infused cereal flour continue to absorb some of the retained free fluid-milk and simultaneously increase in viscosity until the fluid-milk-infused cereal flour thickens and firms enough to retain a formed shape. The sheet of fluid-milk-infused cereal flour is then cut into individual bar-shaped units with rotary and guillotine cutters. The units are then positioned in a mono-layer having a small space between the bars. Said bars are then conveyed into a continuous hot-air oven and baked at about 400 F for about 8 minutes to fully gelatinize the starch granules of the fluid-milk-infused cereal flour and develop a thin surface skin and a golden-brown surface color while retaining a moisture level higher than 40% and a smooth and homogeneous interior texture. The bar-shaped cereal and milk units are then frozen.

EXAMPLE 2

[0031] Example 2 teaches a process for making high-moisture rice fries from rice flour and water; said smooth and homogeneous textured fat-fried rice fries have a higher than 40% moisture content. 2

Formula: High Moisture, Smooth and Homogenous
Textured Rice Fries
IngredientsPer Cent
Rice Flour28.00
Water64.00
Flavor and color4.00
Salt0.50
Vegetable oil3.30
Monoglycerides0.15
Lecithin0.05
Total:100.00

[0032] Process: High Moisture, Smooth and Homogenous Textured Rice Fries

[0033] In the first step of the process, the rice grains are milled into a coarse rice flour which is then pre-mixed with the added oil and dry powdered ingredients. The water component is prepared from a dispersion of the starch-complexing agents and water and preheated to about 180 F. Both the pre-mixed rice flour component and the water component are separately metered into an enclosed stainless steel continuous cooker equipped with low-shear scraped surface agitators. The rice flour and water mixture is cooked at about 180 F and within a few minutes, most of the cooking water is absorbed by the rice flour and thickens into a viscous, smooth and homogeneous water-infused rice flour. Said water-infused rice flour is discharged from the cooker onto a belt-conveyor where the starch granules continue to absorb some of the free water retained with the water-infused rice flour. When the viscosity of the water-infused rice flour thickens and firms enough to retain a formed shape, it is fed to a double-roll former having a multiple-hole die-plate at its discharge end. Said die-plate holes are positioned in said die-plate along the entire length of the double-roll former. Said double-roll former deposits multiple ribbons of water-infused rice flour onto a belt-conveyor and a guillotine cutter is then used to cut the parallel rows of deposited continuous ribbons into 2-3 inch long rice units. Said units are then re-positioned on the conveyor-belt as a mono-layer, with a small space between the rice units. Said rice units are then heated in a continuous fat-fryer at about 375 F for about one minute to fully gelatinize the starch granules of the water-infused rice flour and to develop a light golden-brown surface color and a thin skin on the surface of the rice fries while retaining the higher than 40% moisture in said rice fries' smooth and homogeneous interior texture. The rice fries are then frozen.

[0034] It is understood that the above described process and the above examples are simply illustrative of the application of principles of the invention and many other modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

[0035] The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows.