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Title:
APPARATUS AND METHOD OF SEASONING TACO SHELLS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/171158
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method and apparatus for seasoning a cooked food product is disclosed. A non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture is applied onto a surface of a cooked food product. The seasoning mixture includes at least 35% wt solids.

Inventors:
ELAYEDATH, Shivakumar (7148 Sunshine Drive, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, 55346, US)
TALIJAN, Zoran (430 Pondridge Circle, Wayzata, Minnesota, 55391-1374, US)
WLASCHIN, Aaron P. (525 Frontenac Place, St. Paul, Minnesota, 55104, US)
Application Number:
US2014/037477
Publication Date:
November 12, 2015
Filing Date:
May 09, 2014
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
GENERAL MILLS, INC. (Number One General Mills Boulevard, PO Box 1113Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55440, US)
International Classes:
A23L1/164; A21C15/00; A23L1/22
Domestic Patent References:
WO2001062105A12001-08-30
WO2013052659A22013-04-11
WO1999001039A11999-01-14
Foreign References:
EP1985188A12008-10-29
US20120201934A12012-08-09
US6153236A2000-11-28
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FRAWLEY, Annette M. et al. (General Mills, Inc.Number One General Mills Boulevard,PO Box 111, Minneapolis Minnesota, 55440, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of seasoning a cooked food product comprising applying a non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture onto a surface of a cooked food product, the seasoning mixture comprising at least 35% wt solids.

2. The method according to claim 1, wherein the fried food product comprises cooked corn mas a.

3. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the cooked food product is a taco shell.

4. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture comprise at least 40% wt solids and has a viscosity of at least 1000 cps.

5. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the applying step comprises spraying the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture onto a surface of a cooked food product with a spinning disc sprayer.

6. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the applying step comprises spraying the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture, at a temperature in a range from 38 to 60 degrees centigrade, onto the surface of a cooked food product.

7. The method according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising frying the food product in frying oil before the applying step.

8. The method according to claims 7, wherein the non-aqueous liquid of the seasoning mixture is a same type of oil as the frying oil.

9. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the applying step disposes from 1 to 3 grams of non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture onto the surface of the food product.

10. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture comprises particles having a size of at least 250 micrometers.

11. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture comprises particles having a size of less than 30 micrometers.

12. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the non-aqueous liquid of the seasoning mixture is a solid at a temperature of 27 degrees.

13. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture comprises a range from 45 to 60% wt solids and has a viscosity of at least 1500 cps.

14. A fried food product formed by the method according to any of the preceding claims.

15. An apparatus for seasoning a cooked food product comprising: a spinning disc spray chamber comprising a spinning disc sprayer and having a product zone configured to receive a non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture from the spinning disc sprayer, the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture comprising at least 35% wt solids; a food product conveyor for continuously moving a cooked food product through the product zone.

16. The apparatus according to claim 15, wherein the cooked food product is a corn masa taco shell.

17. The apparatus according to claim 15, further comprising a progressive cavity pump providing the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture to the spinning disc sprayer.

Description:
APPARATUS AND METHOD OF SEASONING TACO SHELLS

BACKGROUND

[0001] Taco shells made from corn are commonly available in the traditional U-shaped design and nominally have a mild corn flavor. Taco shells have evolved to include improved versions that are self-standing. Self-standing taco shells, unlike U-shaped taco shells, rely upon their unique shape to stand freely without the assistance of a secondary holding device or human intervention.

[0002] Consumer acceptance of self-standing taco shells has been appreciably high. To capitalize upon the success of self-standing taco shells and to continue to increase consumer interest and demand for taco shells it is desirable to flavor taco shells. The addition of new flavor varieties to existing products in this manner is a common and successful marketing strategy known as creating line extensions. Topically flavored fried snack products fabricated from fried masa dough pieces are known as well as other fried snack products. These products are typically consumed without eating utensils and thus are colloquially referred to as "finger foods". Typically, an unflavored base is prepared from an unflavored masa dough that is formed into pieces and deep fat fried. While still warm, a topical seasoning or flavor coating can be applied typically a dry blend of salt and various seasoning dry powders such as dried cheese solids.

[0003] While useful, the topical application of dry seasoning flavors results in a product that often undesirably results in products that transfer residual amounts of the dry powder topical seasoning blend from the finger food to the consumer's fingers resulting in an undesirable amount of untidiness. Also, food products prepared from flavored dough formulations that do not include a topical seasoning are well known. However, while incorporating flavors into traditional U-shaped taco shells and more preferably self-standing taco shells is highly desired there are significant challenges to manufacturing, packaging and consumer acceptance of flavored taco shells. [0004] Flavoring large flour tortilla shells gained great popularity as wrap sandwiches dominated the food service landscape in the late 90's and beyond. However, wheat flour tortillas differ greatly from corn masa tortillas. Wheat flour tortillas have a unique capacity for accepting ground garden vegetable and juice additives. Due in large part to the nature of wheat flour dough, the process of adding ground garden vegetable and juice additives to wheat flour tortillas is no more difficult to someone skilled in the art than flavoring traditional loaf bread. In contrast, corn masa dough does not readily accept any additives especially ground garden vegetable and juice additives without severe detrimental impact upon the performance of the dough.

SUMMARY

[0005] The present disclosure relates to a method and apparatus for seasoning food products such as taco shells, in particular the present disclosure relates to the seasoning of cooked taco shells with a non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture having a high solids content such as, at least 35% wt solids, for example.

[0006] In one illustrative embodiment, a method of seasoning a cooked food product includes applying a non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture onto a surface of a cooked food product. The seasoning mixture includes at least 35% wt solids.

[0007] In another illustrative embodiment, an apparatus for seasoning a cooked food product includes a spinning disc spray chamber comprising a spinning disc sprayer having a product zone configured to receive a non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture from the spinning disc sprayer. The non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture includes at least 35% wt solids. A food product conveyor moves a cooked food product through the product zone.

[0008] These and various other features and advantages will be apparent from a reading of the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] The disclosure may be more completely understood in consideration of the following detailed description of various embodiments of the disclosure in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which: [0010] FIG. 1 is a schematic block flow diagram of an illustrative food product seasoning system; and

[0011] FIG. 2 is flow diagram of an illustrative method of seasoning a taco shell.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0012] In the following detailed description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown by way of illustration several specific embodiments. It is to be understood that other embodiments are contemplated and may be made without departing from the scope or spirit of the present disclosure. The following detailed description, therefore, is not to be taken in a limiting sense.

[0013] All scientific and technical terms used herein have meanings commonly used in the art unless otherwise specified. The definitions provided herein are to facilitate understanding of certain terms used frequently herein and are not meant to limit the scope of the present disclosure.

[0014] Unless otherwise indicated, all numbers expressing feature sizes, amounts, and physical properties used in the specification and claims are to be understood as being modified in all instances by the term "about." Accordingly, unless indicated to the contrary, the numerical parameters set forth in the foregoing specification and attached claims are approximations that can vary depending upon the properties sought to be obtained by those skilled in the art utilizing the teachings disclosed herein.

[0015] The recitation of numerical ranges by endpoints includes all numbers subsumed within that range (e.g. 1 to 5 includes 1, 1.5, 2, 2.75, 3, 3.80, 4, and 5) and any range within that range.

[0016] As used in this specification and the appended claims, the singular forms "a", "an", and "the" encompass embodiments having plural referents, unless the content clearly dictates otherwise.

[0017] As used in this specification and the appended claims, the term "or" is generally employed in its sense including "and/or" unless the content clearly dictates otherwise. [0018] As used herein, "have", "having", "include", "including", "comprise", "comprising" or the like are used in their open ended sense, and generally mean "including, but not limited to". It will be understood that "consisting essentially of, "consisting of, and the like are subsumed in "comprising," and the like.

[0019] Throughout the specification and claims, percentages are by weight and temperatures in degrees Celsius unless otherwise indicate. Each referenced patent or patent application is hereby incorporated by reference.

[0020] Masa means "dough" in Spanish, but in Mexico it is generally understood as corn dough.

Masa is made by boiling corn kernels in powdered unslaked lime (calcium oxide), washing them and then grinding. Enough water is then mixed into the meal to make a thick paste or dough.

[0021] Taco shells are made by cooking (for example, deep-fat frying) white or yellow corn tortillas held in a mold. Corn tortillas are made from masa dough. One generally accepted way to make masa dough is to heat dried corn kernels in a slightly corrosive solution of water and lime. This process assists in removal of the kernel's tough outer skin. Once the skins are removed, kernels can be rinsed and boiled in fresh water, drained and mashed into masa dough. Small portions of masa dough are flattened into the desired diameter and thickness for tortillas and cooked very quickly often on each side on a hot flat surface. Creating masa dough of the correct consistency is an important step in the creation of corn tortillas. Adding flavor ingredients to masa dough prior to forming flavored tortillas and subsequent molding and frying flavored tortillas into flavored taco shells significantly impairs the manufacturing process and yields a high number of unacceptable shells characterized in part by an unacceptably narrow gap between the sides of the shell. This problem is apparent upon removal of hot flavored corn tortilla taco shells from the fryer. Hot flavored corn tortilla taco shells are plastic and pliable upon removal from the fryer. Gravity immediately acts upon hot shells causing a predictable collapse in the overall structure of the self-standing taco shell not exhibited with unflavored masa dough. One theory as to the cause of this problem is that flavor ingredients disrupt the natural cohesive structure of prepared masa dough creating a softer less cohesive dough. This problem can also be a localized phenomenon whereby the opening of flavored self-standing taco shells closes appreciably due to a convergence of the opposed sidewalls.

[0022] The present disclosure relates to a method and apparatus for seasoning food products such as taco shells, in particular the present disclosure relates to the seasoning of cooked (e.g., fried) taco shells with a non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture having a high solids content such as, at least 35% wt solids, or at least 45% wt for example. These high solids content, non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixtures can be applied or sprayed onto the surface of a cooked or fried taco shell with a spinning disc sprayer or rotary atomizer, for example. Applicants have found that seasoning applied in this manner remains bound to the surface of the taco shell and imparts the desired flavor experience without impairing the physical properties of the taco shell described above when seasoning is combined prior to frying or cooking the taco shell. The seasoning particles can diffuse into the cooked food surface with the oil, allowing the seasoning to bind to the food product surface. While the present disclosure is not so limited, an appreciation of various aspects of the disclosure will be gained through a discussion of the examples provided below.

[0023] FIG. 1 is a schematic block flow diagram of an illustrative food product seasoning system

10. FIG. 2 is flow diagram of an illustrative method 100 of seasoning a taco shell. While a taco shell is illustrated, it is understood that any cooked or fried corn masa food product can be utilized in the described method and apparatus.

[0024] In one illustrative embodiment, a method of seasoning a fried food product 100 includes applying a non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture onto a surface of a cooked food product, such as a taco shell, for example (see block 120). The seasoning mixture includes at least 35% wt solids. The fried food product or taco shell can include or be formed of corn masa. The taco shell or fried food product can be cooked (e.g., fried) prior to the application of the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture onto a surface of a cooked food product, such as a taco shell, for example (see block 110). Then the seasoned taco shell or fried food product can be packaged or further processed (see block 130).

[0025] An apparatus 10 for seasoning a fried food product includes a spinning disc spray chamber

20. The spray chamber 20 houses a spinning disc sprayer or rotary atomizer 25. The spray chamber 20 has a product zone 22 configured to receive a non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture 16 from the spinning disc sprayer 25. The non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture 16 includes at least 35% wt solids or at least 40% wt solids or in a range from 45 to 60% wt solids. A food product conveyor 30 continuously moves a food product 31 through the product zone 22 in a direction generally orthogonal non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture spray direction (as illustrated by the directions of the arrows), although the spray direction can be directed in any useful direction relative to the food product conveyor 30 direction. Surprising the spinning disc sprayer or rotary atomizer 25 coats the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture onto a surface of a cooked food product uniformly even though the surface of a taco shell is a 3-D surface that has portions at varying distances from the spinning disc sprayer or rotary atomizer 25.

[0026] The food product conveyor 30 continuously moves or conveys food product 31 through the product zone 22 and forming a seasoned food product 32 exiting the product zone 22 and spray chamber 20. The seasoned food product 32 is conveyed to a packing operation or further processing operation 14. The food product conveyor 30 continuously moves or conveys food product 31 from a cooking or frying operation 12 to the spray chamber 20. The food product 31 can be located near the spray chamber 20 such that the food product 31 is still warm when the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture 16 is applied to the food product 31.

[0027] The packaging unit operation 14 can include stacking a quantity (e.g., 3-6) of such flavored square bottomed (for example) taco shells in the form of a nested array (not shown) and provided in a suitable consumer food packaging such as being mounted upon a paperboard support such as U-board and over wrapped with a flexible packaging film (e.g., a clear shrink-wrap packaging film). If desired, a spacer insert can be provided between the sides of the top nested shell to provide additional protection against breakage such as by unintended compression of the packaged food article. In many embodiments, the wrapped nested array of flavored taco shells is disposed within an outer protective carton.

[0028] The non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture 16 can be mixed in a mixing tank 18 that applies a large shear to the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture 16 to maintain the nonaqueous liquid seasoning mixture 16 in suspension. A pump 19 then conveys the suspended non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture 16 to the spinning disc sprayer 25. Nonaqueous liquid seasoning mixture 16 that is not adhered to the food product 31 is recycled into the mixing tank 18 and is again pumped to the spinning disc sprayer 25. In many embodiments, the applying step can dispose from 1 to 3 grams of non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture onto the surface of the food product.

[0029] The spinning disc sprayer 25 can be any useful spinning disc sprayer. A spinning disc sprayer is also referred to as a rotary atomizer. A rotary atomizer or spinning disc sprayer use a high speed rotating disk, cup or wheel to discharge liquid at high speed to the perimeter, forming a hollow cone spray. The rotational speed of the disc controls the drop size. One useful spinning disc sprayer 25 is commercially available from Arcall pic, Dorset England available under the trade designation TNA Intellispin Model 712S, for example.

[0030] The pump 19 that conveys the suspended non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture 16 to the spinning disc sprayer 25 is preferably a progressive cavity pump. A progressive cavity pump is a type of positive displacement pump and is also known as a progressing cavity pump, eccentric screw pump or cavity pump. It transfers fluid by means of the progress, through the pump, of a sequence of small, fixed shape, discrete cavities, as its rotor is turned. This leads to the volumetric flow rate being proportional to the rotation rate (bidirectionally) and to low levels of shearing being applied to the pumped fluid. Hence these pumps have application in fluid metering and pumping of viscous or shear-sensitive materials. The cavities taper down toward their ends and overlap with their neighbors, so that, in general, no flow pulsing is caused by the arrival of cavities at the outlet, other than that caused by compression of the fluid or pump components.

[0031] The progressive cavity pump consists of a helical rotor and a twin helix, twice the wavelength and double the diameter helical hole in a rubber stator. The rotor seals tightly against the rubber stator as it rotates, forming a set of fixed-size cavities in between. The cavities move when the rotor is rotated but their shape or volume does not change. The pumped material is moved inside the cavities.

[0032] In operation, progressive cavity pumps are fundamentally fixed flow rate pumps, like piston pumps and peristaltic pumps. This type of pump moves a set amount of material and can generate extremely high pressures at the outlet of the pump if the flow rate is restricted. To prevent this, these pumps are often fitted with cut-off pressure switches, rupture discs (deliberately weak and easily replaced), or a bypass pipe that allows a variable amount of a fluid to return to the inlet.

[0033] At the points where the rotor touches the stator, the surfaces are generally traveling transversely, so small areas of sliding contact occur. These areas are lubricated by the fluid being pumped (hydrodynamic lubrication). While progressive cavity pumps offer long life and reliable service transporting thick or lumpy fluids, abrasive fluids can significantly shorten the life of the stator. However, slurries (particulates in a medium such as the nonaqueous liquid seasoning mixture) can be pumped reliably if the medium is viscous enough to maintain a lubrication layer around the particles and so protect the stator. One useful progressive cavity pump is commercially available from Moyno Inc., Springfield, Ohio commercially available under the trade designation Model FB2E-SSE-3SBB.

[0034] The non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture 16 can be heated to a temperature in a range from 38 to 60 degrees centigrade, and applied onto the surface of a cooked food product at this elevated temperature range. Applicants have found that applying the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture 16 at this elevated temperate range improves taste experience of the flavored taco shell.

[0035] The non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture can include at least 35% wt solids or at least 40% wt solids or at least 45% wt solids and has a viscosity of at least 1000 cps or at least 1500 cps or at least 2000 cps. This solids content and viscosity of the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture or slurry is normally un-workable with conventional spray nozzles. In many embodiments, the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture includes a range from 45 to 60% wt solids and has a viscosity of at least 1500 cps or at least 2000 cps. The nonaqueous liquid seasoning mixture includes particles having a size of at least 250 or at least 300 micrometers and the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture includes particles having a size of less than 30 or less than 20 micrometers. These non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixtures can be described as a slurry and can be difficult to spray with traditional spray nozzles, especially particles sizes that are at least 250 or at least 300 micrometers in the non-aqueous liquid seasoning mixture. [0036] The non-aqueous liquid of the seasoning mixture can be a mixture of an oil and solid seasoning material. In many embodiments the non-aqueous liquid of the seasoning mixture is a solid at a temperature of 27 degrees or at 30 degrees. In particular the oil or carrier portion of the non-aqueous liquid of the seasoning mixture is a solid at a temperature of 27 degrees or at 30 degrees. One illustrative oil is palm oil. Applicants have found that the oil or carrier portion of the non-aqueous liquid of the seasoning mixture is preferably the same type of oil that was used to cook or fry the corn masa product or taco shell.

[0037] It is preferred that the non-aqueous liquid of the seasoning mixture have a minimal amount or moisture. In many embodiments the non-aqueous liquid of the seasoning mixture has less than 1% wt water or less than 0.5% wt water or less than 0.1% wt water or moisture content.

[0038] Seasoning blends or seasoning mixtures suitable for inclusion in the non-aqueous liquid of the seasoning mixture can be dry and may or may not contain dairy ingredients. Dried ground garden vegetables herbs and spices and mixtures thereof are all suitable for creating a seasoning blend. Dried ground garden vegetables can include but is not limited to celery, carrot, tomato, onion, peppers (all varieties), beets, broccoli, spinach, and kale. Dried ground herbs and spices can include but is not limited to basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, chives, garlic, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, anise, mustard and ginger. Dried seasonings may additionally contain minor amounts of preservatives, fillers and anti-caking or flowing agents to extend the shelf-life and ease of use of these ingredients. Seasoning blends may contain dairy ingredients and flavorings to impart dairy flavors to the seasoned taco shell such as nacho cheese. Dairy ingredients may include but are not limited to dried ground cheese, cheese powder, whey powder, dried milk powder and combinations thereof. In some embodiments the seasoning blend or seasoning mixture includes a lime flavoring. In some embodiments the seasoning blend or seasoning mixture includes a ranch flavoring. In some embodiments the seasoning blend or seasoning mixture includes a jalapeno flavoring. In some embodiments the seasoning blend or seasoning mixture includes a chipotle flavoring. In some embodiments the seasoning blend or seasoning mixture includes a buffalo sauce flavoring. [0039] Any commercially available corn masa flour can be selected for use in masa dough and resulting cooked or fired food product such as taco shells. For example, commercially available corn masa flour can be obtained from Cargill, Inc. located in Minnesota USA. While preferred for use herein are masa doughs comprising one or more corn (maize) flour ingredients (e.g., a mixture of white and yellow corn flours), the skilled artisan will appreciate that in less preferred embodiments, the masa dough can include minor amounts of one or more farinaceous ingredients such as flours from other non-maize cereal grains (major cereal grains such as barley, wheat, rice or oats), or their starch fractions.

[0040] Thus, embodiments of APPARATUS AND METHOD OF SEASONING TACO SHELLS are disclosed. The implementations described above and other implementations are within the scope of the following claims. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the present disclosure can be practiced with embodiments other than those disclosed. The disclosed embodiments are presented for purposes of illustration and not limitation.