Rice cakes are a versatile, low-calorie, fiber-rich food consumed in many cultures either as a dish, like in Asian countries or as a healthy snack. Rice cake production and properties come in a wide range of varieties, and it’s important to have rice cake making equipment that can accommodate the manufacturing of all of them.
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Getting the right consistency: equipment and processes for rice cake making
Rice cake makers start the production process by soaking either white or brown rice. After that, they transfer the softened rice into a preheated hooper of the popping machine where they press and puff the rice. There is a sudden release of water vapor at this stage, which causes the puffed rice to clump together to form rice cakes. After that, they transport the puffed rice cakes through a conveyor belt to a spray where salt and extra flavors like strawberries are added using rotating drums. Producers ensure they produce rice cakes with the right consistency by ensuring the rice is subjected to a high temperature of about 200-230⁰C and pressure of 1.3-1.5MPa for 75-85 seconds in the rice cake machine. They further confirm the texture by performing a texture analysis using a texture analyzer.
White rice versus brown rice: which is better?
The major ingredient in any rice cake production line is, as you would imagine, rice which is either white or brown. Generally, brown rice contains many valuable nutrients and offers outstanding benefits, unlike white rice, which has all its nutrients stripped off during processing.
Using brown rice-derived rice cakes is richer and more nutritional. Their outer layer, which is still intact, has a high fiber content, which is beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels and preventing cardiovascular diseases likes strokes and heart attacks. They are rich in phytochemicals, that function as antioxidants to help the body fight against cancers.
In addition, they contain a lot of essential vitamins, like vitamin E, and micronutrients like iron, copper, zinc, and magnesium. Whole grains like brown rice also have improved gut health and limit the risk of developing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
Given all these benefits, consumers must be able to identify and purchase rice cakes made from whole grains. To make this easy, producers write whole grain as the first ingredient and include the carbohydrate-to-fiber ratio which the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), for example, recommends should be less than 10:1. Note that the qualification for whole grain foods differ per country in the European Union. In Netherlands, foods must contain 100% whole grain to be labeled as such, while Germany requires at least 90%.
Coating options for rice cakes
Rice cakes are generally considered healthy because of their low glycemic index and high fiber content. However, manufacturers enhance their flavor to make it more appealing by coating them with various products. Chocolates and yogurts are the most common coatings but lard and cinnamon are alternative coatings that can naturally improve the taste of rice cakes. Although these coatings might potentially increase their calorie content, they make for a good variety of the product.