Peanut, which (ironically) is a legume, is the make-or-break ingredient of your mixed nuts manufacturing process. “Deluxe” packs tend to avoid them, as their price is much more affordable than other nuts, therefore not being premium. For a regular mix, on the other hand, peanuts can be the major ingredient you’ll include.
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From process to inspection - choosing equipment for the mixed nuts manufacturing
Pecans, walnuts, Brazils, almonds… once you select your set of nuts, you need to decide whether to roast or fry them. For example, when processing and making almonds, it is widely agreed that they are better roasted, whereas frying is the best method when processing cashews. Either way, mixed nuts manufacturing requires equipment that can adjust to the particularities of each ingredient. These include their shape, size and consistency, for instance, but also the oil absorption from each nut when frying them. As an example, roasted peanuts have a low oil absorption rate, and can be more challenging to fry.
Before manually or mechanically creating your set of nuts, you need to process and check them individually for defects. Again, each nut can be more susceptible to different damages sources, such as insects, birds, and rodents. General items you need to check to ensure the quality of the nut are discoloration, rancidity and molds. Mold can occur more in chestnuts and Brazil nuts, while hazelnuts may become bitter after the attack of plant pests.
Moisture, flavonoids: components to take care of
Nuts react differently to roasting and frying when it comes to certain components. Both methods deal well with reducing the moisture of the nuts, which helps increase their shelf life and avoids degradation.
A study regarding roasted peanuts found out that several production characteristics impact the look and flavor of the product. The longer the heat processing time, the darker the surface color – and the lesser moisture content present in the peanut.
Flavonoids are another thing to watch out for in mixed nuts manufacturing. They are natural products common to beans, vegetables, fruits and other types of food. They are responsible for giving vivid colors and have also anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Another study with almonds, pines, cashews and pistachios showed that neither roasting nor frying nuts affected their flavonoids content, compared to their raw state. The only exception was for pistachios, which saw an increase in it.
Minimum amount and clear information: regulations for mixed nuts manufacturing
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration Department of Health and Human Services has specific requirements for the nut mix. It says, for instance, that there must be at least 4 variations of tree nuts ingredients. In case your product use peanuts, it’s possible to either choose only one variety or combine 2 or more of them.
The institution also established minimum and maximum percentages for the nuts. They tend to vary between 5 and 10 to 40% of each type. In case the percentage of one specific type lies between 50-60%, it’s mandatory to include such information in the package. “Contains up to 60% [name of the nut]” or “60% [name of the nut]” need to follow the name “mixed nuts” and be clearly visible to consumers.