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Instant Noodles

Views:0     Author:Site Editor     Publish Time: 2021-07-27      Origin:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant_noodle

Instant noodles, or instant ramen, are noodles sold in a precooked and dried block with flavoring powder and/or seasoning oil. The flavoring is usually in a separate packet, although in the case of cup noodles, the flavoring is often loose in the cup. Some instant noodle products are seal-packed; these can be reheated or eaten straight from the packet/container. Dried noodle blocks are designed to be cooked or soaked in boiling water before eating but can be consumed dry.

The main ingredients used in dried noodles are usually wheat flour, palm oil, and salt. Common ingredients in the flavoring powder are salt, monosodium glutamate, seasoning, and sugar. The dried noodle block was originally created by flash frying cooked noodles, and this is still the main method used in Asian countries, but air-dried noodle blocks are favored in Western countries.

Instant noodles were invented by Momofuku Ando of Nissin Foods in Japan. They were launched in 1958 under the brand name Chikin Ramen. In 1971, Nissin introduced Cup Noodles, the first cup noodle product. Instant noodles are marketed worldwide under many brand names.

Ramen, a Japanese noodle soup, is sometimes used as a descriptor for instant noodle flavors by some Japanese manufacturers. It has become synonymous in the United States for all instant noodle products.

Due to the versatility of instant noodles, they can be used as an alternative to typical long noodles. They are used to make dishes such as ramen, Korean army stew, and even chow mein.


The main ingredients in instant noodles are flour, starch, water, salt and/or a salt substitute known as kansui, a type of alkaline mineral water containing sodium carbonate and usually potassium carbonate, as well as sometimes a small amount of phosphoric acid.

Specific types of noodle can be made from a mix of wheat flour and other flour, such as buckwheat. There are variations to the ingredients used depending on the country of origin in terms of the salt and flour content.

Noodle production starts with dissolving the salt, starch, and flavoring in water to form a mixture that is then added to the flour. The dough is then left for a period of time to mature, then for even distribution of the ingredients and hydration of the particles in the dough, it is kneaded. After it is kneaded, the dough is made into two sheets compounded into one single noodle belt by being put through two rotating rollers. This process is repeated to develop gluten more easily as the sheet is folded and passed through the rollers several times. This will create the stringy and chewy texture found in instant noodles. When the noodle belt is made to the desired thickness by adjusting the gap in the rolls, it is then cut right away. Wavy noodles are made in a slow-paced conveyor belt and are hindered by metal weights when coming out of the slitter, which gives the noodle its wavy appearance. If the strands are to be molded into other shapes, liquid seasoning can be added as well. Once the noodles are shaped, they are ready to be steamed for 1–5 minutes at 100 °C (212 °F) to improve texture by gelatinizing the starch of the noodles. When steaming, the addition of water and heat breaks up the helix structure and crystallinity of amylose. Amylose begins to diffuse out of the starch granule and forms a gel matrix around the granule.

Drying

Noodles can be dried in one of two ways: by frying or by hot-air drying. Fried instant noodles are dried by oil frying for 1–2 minutes at a temperature of 140–160 °C (284–320 °F). The frying process decreases the moisture content from 30–50% to 2–5%. Common oils used for frying in North America include canola, cottonseed, and palm oil mixtures, while only palm oil or palm olein are used in Asia. Air-dried noodles are dried for 30–40 minutes in hot air at a temperature of 70–90 °C (158–194 °F), resulting in a moisture content of 8–12%. During the drying process, the rapid evaporation of water creates pores throughout the food matrix, which allows for short cooking times in the finished product. In the case of fried noodles, the creation of pores is directly related to the uptake of fat into the noodles.More than 80% of instant noodles are fried as this creates more evenly dried noodles than hot-air drying, which can cause an undesired texture in finished noodles and also takes longer to cook.  However, with fried noodles, the oil content is about 15–20% and decreases the shelf life of the noodles due to oxidation, whereas in hot-air dried noodles, oil content doesn't go above 3%.

Packaging

Seasoning sachets on instant noodles, the content of a Japanese instant yakisoba package

Before packaging with seasoning, the noodles are cooled after drying, and their moisture, color, and shape are checked. Packaging of the noodles includes films impermeable to air and water. There are two forms of packaged instant noodles: one with the provided seasoning in small sachets inside or in a cup with seasoning on top of the noodles. There are a variety of flavors to the noodles, depending on which ones are added to the seasoning. Such flavors include beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, etc. In instant noodle cups, soy protein and dehydrated vegetables and meats are often added for further flavor.

The shelf life of instant noodles ranges from 4–12 months, depending on environmental factors. Their stability comes from the high sodium content with low moisture, and low water activity. Instant noodles can be served after 1–2 minutes in boiled water or soaked in hot water for 3–4 minutes.


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