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Breakfast Cereals and How They Are Made: Raw Materials, Processing, and Production

Breakfast Cereals and How They Are Made: Raw Materials, Processing, and Production

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Breakfast Cereals and How They Are Made: Raw Materials, Processing, and Production

907 pages
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Jan 9, 2020


Breakfast Cereals and How They Are Made: Raw Materials, Processing, and Production, Third Edition, covers the transformation of a cereal grain across the supply chain with oversight of the entire lifecycle – from ingredient, to finished product. The book provides essential Information for food product developers on the effect of ingredients and process conditions on breakfast cereal quality. All aspects of the processing of cereals grains into finished products is covered, from batching and cooking, toasting and tempering, coating, the inclusion of additional ingredients, and packaging information. In addition, the book covers the chemistry and economics of cereal crops.

Essential reading for all product developers working in the cereal industry, this book will also be of interest to academic researchers and postgraduate students in both cereal science and food processing.

  • Provides an up-to-date, end-to-end overview of the production process of cereal products
  • Edited by active cereals researchers working in industry, with experts from both academia and industry supplying content
  • Includes essential information on both ingredients and processes in the production of breakfast cereals
  • Discusses materials, cooking and packaging
  • Includes nutrition, quality and safety
Jan 9, 2020

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Breakfast Cereals and How They Are Made - Elsevier Science

Breakfast Cereals and How They Are Made

Raw Materials, Processing, and Production

Third Edition


Alicia A. Perdon

Sylvia L. Schonauer

Kaisa S. Poutanen

Table of Contents

Cover image

Title page




1. Breakfast cereals and how they are made—Introduction

Breakfast cereals global market


Current status

2. Breakfast—Forms, ingredients, and process flow


Flaked and toasted cereals

Puffed cereals

Direct expanded extruded cereals

Shredded and baked cereals

Extruded and other shredded cereals

Filled, bite-size shredded wheat biscuits

Agglomerated cereals

Breakfast-cereal-like products for ingredient use

Section One. Raw materials’ fundamentals

3. An agronomic overview of US cereal cropping systems


Cereal environment

Land operations

Nutrient management

Water management

Rice systems and greenhouse gas emissions


4. Cereal grains and other ingredients








Microstructural comparison of the common cereal grains

Other grains

Other ingredients

5. Cereal raw material pretreatment


Kiln drying and flaking of oats

Germination and malting


Use of enzymes in grain processing

Safety and stability of processed grains

6. Major changes in cereal biopolymers during ready-to-eat cereal processing


Moisture management and food polymer science

Moisture content and water activity definitions

Food polymer science

Transitions of major constituents

Starch: structure and transformation

Cell wall polysaccharides: structure and transformation


Changes during cereals processing


7. Extrusion—Cooking and expansion


Material properties

Extruder functional zones and extruder workings

Examples of applications to the design of product structure

Conclusion and prospects

8. Thin-layer sugar crystallization principles


Crystallization and drying

Controlling crystallization in cereals processes

Future developments

Section Two. Process and packaging

9. Material handling and transporting



Transport and transfer

Lump breaking


10. Weighing and blending (including granola processing)



Fluid ingredient dispensing


Case study: granola manufacture

11. Cooking


System approach to cooking process

Classification of cooking processes by energy input

Batch versus continuous cooking

Batch rotary cookers

Continuous cooking fundamentals

Continuous cookers

Continuous steam preconditioning

Continuous infrared pretreatment

Measuring the degree of cook

12. Drying


Key drying considerations

Drying phases

Types of dryers


13. Milling and forming


Milling equipment—flaking mills

Mill roll operation

Changes in product properties during milling

14. Tempering


Theories about tempering

Retrogradation of starch

15. Toasting


Toasting principles

Impact of oven type on cereal properties

Types of ovens

Vapor equilibrium and the thermodynamic cycle

Toasting sensitivity studies


16. Coating


The coating process—basic principles

Conventional coating system

Drum operation and design

Integrated continuous coating systems

One-step continuous coater dryer

Applicator dryer

Conveyor belt process

Spray systems

Vitamin application


17. Fortification


Rationale for fortification

Approach to fortification

Vitamins and minerals

Fundamentals of fortification

Fortification techniques

18. Packaging technology and food quality


Multiple functions of packaging

Package components

Packaging equipment

The cereal packaging line

Packaging of hot cereals

Packaging and product quality

Advances in cereal packaging

Section Three. Finished food

19. Nutritional aspects of breakfast cereals


Nutritional quality of breakfast cereals

Nutrient intakes from breakfast cereals

Physiological functions affected by breakfast cereal consumption

Health relevance of breakfast cereal consumption


20. Environmental challenges in breakfast cereal manufacture


Ecological and sustainable considerations for food manufacturing

Environmental management program

Environmental regulatory issues

International organization for standards


21. Breakfast cereals: Current and future challenges


History and future

Breakfast cereals and health

Starch basics

Extrusion technology

Glycemic index, starch accessibility, and digestibility

Other RTE cereal challenges

Strategies for reinvention

Final thoughts



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Practitioners and researchers must always rely on their own experience and knowledge in evaluating and using any information, methods, compounds, or experiments described herein. In using such information or methods they should be mindful of their own safety and the safety of others, including parties for whom they have a professional responsibility.

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Joseph A. George,     Jaguard, LLC, Bellevue, MI, United States

Maria Arlene A. Adviento-Borbe,     Delta Water Management Research Unit, USDA-ARS, Jonesboro, AR, United States

Emily O. Arijaje,     Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, MI, United States

James C. Breslin,     Process Partners, Inc. and Gemmer Process Partners, Hudsonville, MI, United States

Robert E. Burns,     Processtech Consulting, Yorba Linda, CA, United States

Elwood F. Caldwell,     Deceased

Laurent Chaunier,     INRA, Biopolymères, Interactions & Assemblages Nantes, Cédex 3, France

Guy Della Valle,     INRA, Biopolymères, Interactions & Assemblages Nantes, Cédex 3, France

John Etzcorn,     Kellogg Company (Retired), Battle Creek, MI, United States

Robert B. Fast,     Deceased

Richard W. Hartel,     University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI, United States

Ulla Holopainen-Mantila,     VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd., Espoo, Finland

Victor T. Huang,     General Mills (Retired), Golden Valley, MN, United States

James Ievolella,     Nabisco Foods New City (Retired), NY, United States

Julie Miller Jones,     St. Catherine University, Minneapolis, MN, United States

Wilf H. Jones,     WHJ Processes, Irby Wirral, England

Kevin Knott,     Reading Bakery Systems, Robesonia, PA, United States

Magdalena Kristiawan,     INRA, Biopolymères, Interactions & Assemblages Nantes, Cédex 3, France

Charles Lauhoff,     Lauhoff Corp. Detroit, MI, United States

Steve Leusner,     Fields of Gold Consulting LLC, West Kingston, RI, United States

Harry Levine,     Morris Plains, New Jersey, United States

Leon Levine,     Leon Levine Associates, Albuquerque, NM, United States

Edward J. Monahan,     General Mills Inc., Golden Valley, MN, United States

Alicia A. Perdon,     Kellogg Company (Retired), Battle Creek, MI, United States

Kaisa S. Poutanen,     VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd., Espoo, Finland

Frank E. Pringle,     Deceased

Carol Saade,     Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, MI, United States

Aleida J. Sandoval,     Depto. de Tecnología de Procesos Biológicos y Bioquímicos, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Caracas, Venezuela

Sylvia L. Schonauer

Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, MI, United States

SSK Consulting, LLC, Bellaire, MI, United States

Louise Slade,     Morris Plains, New Jersey, United States

Bradley Strahm,     Wenger Manufacturing, Sabetha, KS, United States

Paul Whalen,     Whalen Consulting, Elk River, MN, United States


The third edition of this book, Breakfast Cereals and How They Are Made, is a tribute to Robert B. Fast and Elwood F. Caldwell, who were first to put together and coedit a comprehensive textbook on breakfast cereal technology in 1990. This book became an invaluable reference to breakfast cereal developers and scientists in developing new products and troubleshooting problems in existing cereal processes.

Integrating the art of breakfast cereal processing with science is important in keeping up with consumer preferences and regulatory requirements. In 2000, Fast and Caldwell published the book's second edition and incorporated technological advances and new information on nutrition and cereal science. The introduction of the food polymer science approach in understanding changes occurring in grains during each unit operation, such as cooking and tempering, helped in optimizing as well as developing new processes.

Fast and Caldwell created a breakfast cereal bible, and it was a tall order to put together the book's third edition. As editors, we decided to keep most of the information, included the authors who wrote them, and invited others to keep up with new advances and learnings. We reorganized the chapters to reflect a more holistic farm-to-fork approach. This is very critical in the current environment, where the market is driven by changing food habits and perceptions driven by a rapidly evolving social media. Consumers want more transparency on food sourcing, and governments globally are tightening regulations on nutrition and ingredient labeling. We added an agronomy chapter and included more information in the environmental challenge chapter to show the impact of breakfast cereals processing on environmental, social, and economic sustainability. We also included several chapters and sections on fundamental principles that are critical in producing high-quality, nutritious food while maintaining cost-effective production capabilities.

We are grateful to all the authors who provided and reviewed this book's sections and chapters. A big thank-you to our families, who supported us throughout all the planning, writing, editing, and virtual meetings that happened in the last 3   years.

Alicia A. Perdon

Sylvia L. Schonauer

Kaisa S. Poutanen


Breakfast cereals and how they are made—Introduction

Alicia A. Perdon ¹ , a , Kaisa S. Poutanen ² , and Sylvia L. Schonauer ¹ , ³       ¹ Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, MI, United States      ² VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd., Espoo, Finland      ³ SSK Consulting, LLC, Bellaire, MI, United States


This chapter covers a brief overview of breakfast cereal and its current global market. A short history of the breakfast cereal industry is discussed followed by a list of current challenges facing the industry.


Breakfast cereal; Breakfast cereal market; History

Breakfast cereals global market

Breakfast cereals are processed food typically consumed with milk and fruit as the first meal of the day. They are manufactured from grains such as corn, wheat, rice, or oats. They are classified into two types: (1) ready-to-eat cereals such as corn flakes, puffed rice, puffed oats, and shredded wheat, which are consumed cold, and (2) hot cereals that include oatmeal, hot wheat, and other grain products.

The global breakfast cereals market was estimated to be US$ 37 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow to US$ 50 billion by 2023 (Breakfast Cereals Market, 2016; Breakfast Cereals Market, 2018 ). The largest market is in North America, with Europe being the second largest. In 2016, North America had 59% of the breakfast cereals market, while Europe/Middle East/Africa and Asia Pacific had 30% and 11%, respectively (Global Breakfast Cereals, 2017). In United Kingdom, the average daily purchase of breakfast cereals in 2006–15 was 130   g per day (Statista, 2018). It is difficult to estimate an accurate number because the global cereals market includes more than breakfast cereals, e.g., bars, porridge. Although consumption of breakfast cereals is slowly declining in North America and United Kingdom, increased consumption is expected, especially in Asia. Lifestyle changes, convenience, increase in disposable income, and rising trend in consuming low calorie, high fiber food in developing economies are expected to drive this growth. Food companies are adjusting their product formulations and processes to come up with a variety of breakfast cereals that match with local preferences. In Asia Pacific, product innovation centers around hot cereals which are preferred over cold cereals. Understanding how different grains perform under different process conditions will be the key in producing products that consumers will like.


The history of breakfast cereals can be traced back to the gruel eaten by ancient Greeks and has mirrored lifestyle changes throughout the centuries. In 1863, James Caleb Jackson, a religious health reformer and conservative vegetarian, ran a sanitarium in upstate New York and believed illness was based on the digestive system especially of those who consumed a lot of meat. He created a breakfast cereal by baking graham flour dough into brittle cakes which he then crumbled and baked again. He called this cereal granula which was so hard they needed to be soaked in milk overnight before consumption. In late 1870s, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who also ran the Battle Creek sanitarium in Michigan, combined wheat flour, oatmeal, and cornmeal into a cold cereal mixture, and also called this granula. After being sued by Jackson, Kellogg renamed the cereal granola. C.W. Post, a former Kellogg patient, used the same idea and created Grape-Nuts (Eschner, 2017; Severson, 2016).

In 1898, Kellogg and his brother, Will Keith, accidentally flaked wheat berries and marketed the cereal as Granose Flakes. Will kept experimenting until he flaked corn, and the first batch of Corn Flakes was manufactured in 1906. At around the same time, Alexander P. Anderson invented a process of making puffed rice by shooting rice grains from a cannon. Quaker Oats acquired the gun-puffing method and introduced the first puffed rice cereal in 1905.

In the early 1900s, a cereal mixture featuring uncooked rolled oats, dried fruit, and nuts was developed by Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner for his hospital patients in Switzerland. The mix was called Muesli and was originally served with orange juice instead of milk. Muesli was introduced to Great Britain as early as 1926 and became one of the most popular breakfast cereals in Europe.

An accidental spill of a wheat bran mixture onto a hot stove created Wheaties in 1925. This was followed by introduction of Rice Krispies, Rice Chex, and CheeriOats, later renamed Cheerios.

Consumption of cereals as health food changed in 1939 when the first sweetened cereal, Ranger Joe Popped Wheat Honnies, was developed. From that point forward, sweetened cereals grew in popularity. After World War II, cereals consumption increased with the advent of the baby boom, and sugar became a selling point. Fruit-flavored cereals, such Fruity Pebbles, Froot Loops, and Trix, were introduced in 1960s and 1970s. This is also the period when granola made its comeback.

From 1990s to 2000s, breakfast cereals made a comeback as a health food and component of a healthy lifestyle. Ingredients were highlighted as natural, organic, gluten-free, and vehicles for specific nutrients. Products were reformulated to increase the amount of fiber and whole grain while reducing salt, sugar, and fat (Gasparro, 2018). The challenges in these reformulations are managing the cost and efficiency of production and, more importantly, maintaining the taste quality that consumers expect.

Current status

The market leaders are innovating their product offerings to cater to the diversified customer interests throughout the world. The current breakfast cereals market is driven by changing food habits, low-carb diet craze, and consumers wanting more transparency in food sourcing and labeling. Consumer perception is influenced by social media and the Internet. A holistic approach from farm to table is needed to ensure environmental, social, and economic sustainability is maintained along the food chain.

Changing breakfast habits and demographics across the emerging economies are acting as the major growth drivers for global demand of breakfast cereals. However, the breakfast cereals market is experiencing a slowdown in growth in the recent years due to the increase in consumption of alternative breakfast items and inexpensive breakfast options (Breakfast Cereals Market, 2017). Availability of other breakfast options that are perceived fresher and/or more convenient, such as eggs, fruits, cereal bars, toasts, and yoghurt, remains a key factor affecting cereals sales.

High commodity and energy cost along with a decentralized ingredient supply scenario will remain a key challenge for the breakfast cereals industry. Nutritional properties and health relevance are a key driving force. Technologies reducing sugar, salt, or saturated fats in the products while adding fiber and protein will also increase production cost.

In recent years, cereal companies such as Kellogg and General Mills have reversed their trend in reducing sugar and gone back to basics as consumers are expanding their consumption to snacking and dessert. Consumers of cereals   —   children and adults alike—care less about nutrition and more about fun flavors, range of colors, and sweet taste, according to market research firms and food company executives (Gasparro, 2018).

Major manufacturing companies recognize the value of brand loyalty and customer preferences. They are catering to region-specific breakfast habits to promote their products and increase their brand value. Strategic alliance including joint ventures, mergers, and acquisitions is happening across the industry to adapt with the changing environment (Gasparro, 2018).


Breakfast Cereals Market by Product Type (Hot Cereals, Ready to Eat) – Growth, Future Prospects, Competitive Analysis and Forecast to 2016–2023. Published: December 2016. Report Code: 58270-12-16. Available at: http://www.credenceresearch.com/report/breakfast-cereals-market.

Breakfast Cereals Market – Growth, Trends and Forecasts (2018–2023) . December 2017 Available at:. https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/breakfast-cereals-market.

Breakfast Cereals Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report by Product (RTE, Hot Cereal), by Distribution Channel (Supermarket, E-Commerce, Convenience Store), by Region, Vendor Landscape, and Segment Forecasts, 2018–2025 . March 2018 Report ID: GVR-2-68038-111-5. Available at:. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/breakfast-cereals-market.

Eschner K. The First Breakfast Cereal, Granula, Had to Be Soaked before Being Eaten. March 7, 2017 Available at:. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/first-breakfast-cereal-granula-had-be-soaked-being-eaten-180962340/.

Gasparro A. A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Sales Go Up: Cereal Makers Return to the Sweet Stuff. April 5, 2018 Available at:. https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-spoonful-of-sugar-helps-the-sales-go-up-cereal-makers-return-to-the-sweet-stuff-1522937066. .

Global Breakfast Cereals Market – High Demand for Convenience Food Drives Growth . September 26, 2017 Available at:. http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170926005921/en/Global-Breakfast-Cereals-Market---High-Demand.

Severson K. A Short History of Cereal. February 22, 2016 Available at:. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/02/22/dining/history-of-cereal.html.

Statista. Average Purchase per Person per Week of Breakfast Cereals in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2006 to 2016/2017 (in Grams). 2018 Available at:. https://www.statista.com/statistics/284471/weekly-uk-household-consumption-of-breakfast-cereals/.

a  Retired.


Breakfast—Forms, ingredients, and process flow

Robert B. Fast † , Alicia A. Perdon ¹ , a , and Sylvia L. Schonauer ¹ , ²       ¹Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, MI, United States      ²SSK Consulting, LLC, Bellaire, MI, United States


This chapter provides an overview on the common ingredients and processes involved in producing the different breakfast cereals. Descriptions of unit operations and recommended operating conditions are also discussed.


Agglomerated cereal; Baked cereal; Baking; Drying; Extruded cereal; Extrusion; Milling; Puffed flakes; Puffing; Rotary cooking; Shredding; Tempering; Toasted flakes; Toasting


Breakfast cereals or ready-to-eat (RTE) cereals are grains, primarily corn, wheat, rice, and/or oats, processed with added flavor and fortified with vitamins and minerals. They are convenient and relatively shelf stable and typically consumed as the first meal of the day (to break the fast).

There are two major types of breakfast cereals based on preparation before consumption—cold cereals and hot cereals. Cold cereals are the most convenient and are consumed immediately after mixing with milk, yogurt, or fruit. Hot breakfast cereals, originally made from oats and wheat, required cooking by the consumer before they were ready for consumption. Current varieties are preprocessed so that they are ready for consumption with the addition of either hot water or milk.

There are several forms of cold cereals that are available: (1) toasted flaked cereals (corn flakes, wheat flakes, and rice flakes), including extruded flakes, (2) puffed intact grains or extruded pellets, (3) baked shredded whole grains or extruded grain fractions, (4) granola and muesli-type cereals, and (5) preprocessed hot cereals. Fig. 2.1 gives an overview on the ingredients and typical processes associated with each categories that will be discussed in the following sections.

Flaked and toasted cereals

Corn flakes, wheat flakes, and multigrain flakes are typical examples of flaked cereals. Two general cooking methods are used to prepare flaked cereals. The traditional method involves direct cooking of intact grain kernels or parts of kernels with water and flavor in a steam cooker. Grain selection is therefore very important to the finished character of flaked cereals, and sizing or screening operations may be necessary to provide flaking grit-sized particles. The second method involves cooking of finer materials, such as grain flour, in an extruder where mechanical energy is applied. By cooking a dough and forming from it correctly sized grits for flaking, much of the equipment in the traditional process can be eliminated.

Figure 2.1 General overview of common cereals process operations.

Corn flakes

The best example of a cereal made from parts of whole grain is corn flakes. It can be made by traditional steam cooking or continuous extrusion. The basic raw material for the traditionally cooked corn flake comes from the dry milling of regular field corn. Dry milling removes the germ and the bran from the kernel, and essentially chunks of endosperm are left and are called corn flaking grits. The size needed for corn flakes is typically one-half to one-third that of the whole kernel. Each finished flake typically represents one grit, although sometimes two small grits stick together and wind up as one flake.

Ingredients and formulation

The first step in converting raw corn grits into corn flakes is to mix them with a flavor solution. A typical formula for making corn flakes is as follows: corn flaking grits, 100   lb (45   kg); a flavor solution made up of granulated sugar, 6   lb (3.7   kg), malt syrup, 2   lb (1   kg), and salt, 2   lb (1   kg); and water sufficient to yield cooked grits with a moisture content of not more than 32% after allowing for steam condensate. Liquid sucrose at 67°Brix can be substituted for the sugar, with a decrease in the amount of added water. Likewise, 26% saturated brine can be used instead of dry salt; however, this solution is very corrosive on pumps and meters. Malt syrup is a very viscous material, and some manufacturers prefer using malt flour. The traditional malt syrup is one that does not have any diastatic enzyme activity but both diastatic and nondiastatic malt flours can be used. Master batches of the flavor solution (sugar, malt, salt, and water) can be prepared for multiple cooking batches, and the correct proportion of flavor solution added to each cooker batch is weighed.


The correct amounts of raw corn grits and flavor solution are charged into batch cookers, which are usually vessels about 4   ft in diameter and 8   ft long (about 1.2   ×   2.4   m). They are capable of being rotated and are built to withstand direct steam injection under pressure. An example is the Johnson cooker, formerly manufactured by the Adolph Johnson Co., of Battle Creek, Michigan. In the United Kingdom, similar pieces of equipment are called Dalton cookers. The Lauhoff Corporation produces a redesigned version of the Johnson cooker, as do APV Baker, Inc., in the United States and United Kingdom and Buhler, Inc., in the United States and Switzerland. Batch cookers are discussed in more detail in Chapter 11.

The grits and flavor solution may be loaded simultaneously, or the grits may be added first, the cooker lid closed (or capped), the rotation started, and then the flavor solution added. The objective is to form a uniform dispersion of flavor throughout the grain mass. Normally, the raw ingredients when fully loaded into the cooker occupy not more than one-half to two-thirds of its volume, to leave room for expansion during cooking. In cooking corn for corn flakes, it has been found best to increase the batch size so that at the end of the cooking time the cooker is filled to capacity. This batch size, which is slightly larger than that normally used for wheat or rice, produces cooks that are less sticky and easier to process further.

With the grits and flavor in the cooker and the cooker tightly capped, the steam is turned on. Cooking is normally done at 15–18 psi (1.0–1.25   bar) for 2   h. Some batches may take more or less time than others, as a result of variations in corn grits properties—size distribution, corn age, and corn type. The rotation speed of these batch cookers is usually 1–4   rpm, with the higher rate used for initial mixing only. Too high a speed can lead to attrition of the grit particles, resulting in mushiness and huge clumping of the cooked grains. On the other hand, too low a speed can lead to uneven cooking within a batch. The moisture content of the cooked mass at the end of the cooking cycle should be not more than 32%. Some batches can be considered well cooked and in good processing condition with a moisture content as low as 28%.

When the cooking time cycle is completed, the steam is turned off, and the vent is opened to help reduce the pressure inside the cooker back to the ambient pressure and cool its contents. The exhaust may be connected to a vacuum system for more rapid cooling. The cooker is carefully uncapped and the rotation is restarted. Cooker operation, venting, and exhausting are covered in some detail in Chapter 11.

Cooking is complete when each kernel or kernel part turns from a hard, chalky white to a light, golden brown and is soft and translucent. A batch is undercooked if large numbers of grain particles have chalky white centers, and it is overcooked if the particles are excessively soft, mushy, and sticky. Properly cooked particles are rubbery but firm and resilient under finger pressure, and they contain no raw starch. Raw starch present after cooking remains through further processing and shows up as white spots in the finished flakes and causes breakage.


The cooked food is dumped onto a moving conveyor belt under the cooker discharge. Dumping creates an interesting processing problem—that of placing a properly cooked batch of grain, which is optimum at time zero, into the slower continuous flow in the next steps of the process. A batch of cooked corn grits can be dumped from a cooker in about 7   min, but no dryers in the industry can dry them to a flakable moisture content in 7   min. Almost all processors therefore face the problem of how to get the cooker empty, cool the cooked material to stop the cooking action, and space that material out in a uniform flow to feed a dryer and cooler of reasonable size. While this is being done, the cooker may be needed for the next batch, with its own loading time, steam come-up time, 2-hr cooking time, steam exhaust time, and dump time.

The most common method of solving the dumping problem is to spread the cooked food out over a large area. Some spread it on wide, slow-speed conveyors under the cookers. Others spread it over large areas of perforated plates, with air blowing up through the perforations; these can be stacked to save space and are sometimes agitated.


Once on a moving belt, before they are conveyed to a dryer, the cooked grits pass through delumping equipment to break the loosely held-together grits into mostly single grit particles. Delumping is essential to obtain particles or agglomerates of grits small enough for good circulation of heated air around each particle for uniform drying. It may be necessary to accomplish delumping and cooling in steps to get good separation of the grits so that they are the optimum size for drying. In most cases, cooling takes place first, to stop the cooking action and remove stickiness from the grit surface. Cooling is kept to a minimum, because in subsequent drying the product is reheated to remove moisture. Most cooling-delumping systems include screening devices. The most common are flatbed gyrating sifters or rotating-wire or perforated-drum screeners.


From the cooling-sizing operation, the grits are metered in a uniform flow to the dryer. The most prevalent dryer configuration is that of wide, perforated conveyor units passing through a surrounding chamber in which the temperature, humidity, and airflow can be controlled. Dryers and drying in general are discussed in greater detail in Chapter 12.

Drying corn grits is best done at temperatures below 250°F (120°C) and under controlled humidity. It should result in a minimum of skinning over of the particle surface or case hardening, as this impedes the removal of moisture from the center of the grit. Controlled humidity prevents such case hardening of the grit surface and greatly decreases the time needed for drying to the desired end moisture content, usually 10%–14%.

Cooling and tempering

After drying, the grits are put through a cooler to bring them back to ambient temperature. Such cooling is usually done in an unheated section of the dryer itself. In certain hot climates or under certain plant conditions, some refrigerated air may be required. If the grits are not properly cooled, they darken and lose quality during the next step in the process.

Tempering is merely holding the grits in large accumulating bins or another section of the dryer but under ambient conditions. This allows the moisture content to equilibrate among grit particles as well as from the center to the surface of individual particles. Other physical and chemical changes also take place within the grit components that may affect the degree of blister development in the toasting operation. These are discussed in Chapters 6 and 14.

In earlier days of processing grits for corn flakes, before controlled humidity dryers were available, tempering times were long—as long as 24   h—to allow complete equilibration of moisture. Now, with controlled humidity drying, tempering times have been reduced to a matter of hours. The moisture content at the end of tempering should be 10%–14%.


After tempering, the grits are rolled into thin flakes by passing between pairs of very large metal rolls. Tremendous pressures are necessary to flatten the grits into flakes. For normal-sized rolls, 20 in. in diameter and 30 in. long (50   ×   75   cm), these pressures are on the order of 40 tons (36 tonnes metric) (Matz, 1959).

Flaking rolls are made of a variety of materials, including chilled iron, steel, and special alloys. They are fitted with a means of injecting cooling water and removing it once it has served its purpose of taking up heat generated by flaking. Usually, chilled water at a controlled temperature is injected into the shaft at one end of the roll, and the used, heated water is removed from the shaft at the other end. In some rolls, the flow of water through the roll is accomplished by a continuous spiral groove channeled in the interior surface of the roll from one end to the other. Flaking rolls and flaking are discussed in detail in Chapter 13.

For normal flaking of corn grits, a good temperature at the roll surface is 110–115°F (43–46°C), as measured after the rolls have been used for about 1   h and are evenly warmed up. Temperatures much over 120°F (50°C) cause excessive roll wear and sticking of the product to the roll surface. Cooling the rolls to temperatures much below 110°F (43°C) is not necessary, as it does not prolong roll life to any great extent and requires excessive amounts of chilled water. Colder roll surfaces also lack the grabbing ability needed to draw the grits into the roll nip, or area where the rolls are closest together.

The moisture content at the time of flaking is most important and has a great bearing on the blister formation, or development, of the finished flake. The flaked moisture content and the matching oven temperature profile are the two main determining factors in good blister development, which is generally best in the 10%–14% moisture range. To flake cooked corn grits at this low moisture content, it is necessary to steam them or otherwise heat them just sufficiently to make their surfaces sticky enough to allow the rolls to grab them and draw them in.

Roll knives are used to scrape the flakes off the rolls. They must be kept sharp and properly mounted. Roll knives are described more fully in Chapter 13, which also explains roll-feeding devices. These are necessary to maintain a uniform feed of grits, evenly spaced across the whole width of the rolls.

Older-style rolls with babbitt bearings roll on the order of 150   lb (68   kg) of flakes per hour. This tonnage was well matched to the capacity of old-style, direct-fired rotary toasting ovens. Modern rolls, with roller bearings in place of babbitt bearings, can roll between 400 and 1200   lb (180–550   kg) of flakes per hour; the flakes are then toasted in indirect-fired ovens within which the temperatures are closely controlled. Flaking rolls are mounted in close proximity to the feed end of the oven, usually on the floor or a mezzanine above. It is not unusual to have two pairs of rolls (two roll stands) feeding one oven.


Flakes are usually toasted by keeping them suspended in a hot airstream rather than by laying them out on a flat baking surface like those used for cookies and crackers. The classical flake-toasting oven is a rotating perforated drum, 3–4   ft (1.0–1.25   m) in diameter and 1420   ft (4–6   m) long, mounted in an insulated housing. Once matched to the product type and the production rate, the speed of rotation of the drum is rarely varied.

The oven slopes from the feed end to the discharge end. It is important for the slope and the speed of rotation of the drum to be adjusted so that the flakes remain suspended in the air as much as possible and are not thrown out so that they stick to the inside of the drum. The perforations should be as large as possible for good airflow but small enough that flakes do not catch in them and remain there until they burn.

Properly toasted flakes have the correct and desired color and moisture content. Color can be checked visually by the oven operator, and excellent color-measuring systems run by programmable logic controllers (PLCs) or computer networks are also available. A standard acceptable range from too light to too dark can easily be established with these instruments. They may be read and the readings manually recorded on quality control charts on a regular basis, and closed-loop automatic recording and control are also possible with state-of-the-art instrumentation.

The moisture content of flakes is usually in the range of 1.5%–3%. Checking is done both by feel and by moisture meter. Like color-measuring meters, moisture meters can be read and the readings recorded on quality control charts, or they can be linked to PLC and computer controls. Properly trained oven operators can become very expert at judging product quality, but the use of meters is strongly recommended for quality control. For properly toasted corn flakes, oven temperatures in the range of 525–625°F (275–330°C) are usually employed, and the residence time is about 90   s.

Another style of toasting oven also suspends the flakes in heated air, but they are carried through the oven by a vibratory trough from the feed end to the discharge. These ovens can be zoned or coupled together to provide varying oven temperature profiles for varying toasting effects. Oven styles are covered in greater detail in Chapter 15.

Wheat flakes

The processing of wheat flakes is different from that of corn flakes because of differences between the grains. For corn flakes, the starting material is broken chunks of corn kernel endosperm or corn flaking grits from which the bran and germ have been removed, but for wheat flakes, the starting material is whole wheat kernels with all seed parts intact (germ, bran, and endosperm).


The objective of the cooking process is the same for wheat flakes as for corn flakes: complete gelatinization of all the starch present and even distribution of the flavors (sugar, salt, and malt) throughout the individual kernels. This requires a preprocessing step before cooking, because the bran layer keeps the water and flavor materials from penetrating to the interior of the kernel. The kernels are broken open by a process referred to as bumping; the grain is lightly steamed and then run through a pair of rolls to crush the kernels slightly. If the crushing and flattening are too severe, the resulting flour and fine material cause the cook to be excessively soft and gluey and difficult to process further.

Ingredients and formulation

Wheat used for the production of wheat flakes is usually soft red or white winter wheat. A typical formula for wheat flakes is as follows: bumped wheat, 100   lb (45   kg); a flavor solution composed of fine-granulated sugar, 8–12   lb (3.6–5.5   kg), malt syrup, 2   lb (1   kg), and salt, 2   lb (1   kg); and water sufficient to yield a cooked product with a moisture content of 28%–30%, including steam condensate. The flavor solution and water can be made up in a master batch sufficient for multiple cooks, and portions are weighed for each cook.


The cooking and processing of the grain for wheat flakes is similar in many respects to the processing of corn grits for corn flakes. Yet there are significant differences, one of the first of which is in loading the cooker with grain and flavor solution. For wheat flakes, this is typically done by metering the grain from a weigh scale and pumping the flavor solution through a delivery hose located at the cooker opening, in such a way that the two streams commingle as they fall into the cooker. Once the cooker is loaded and capped, it is common practice to rotate it through four to six revolutions to mix the solution thoroughly with the grain before turning on the steam.

It is not necessary to fill the cooker as full as a cooker used for corn grits. If it is too full at the end of cooking, the wheat mass may pack in the cooker and not dump unless the operator digs at it manually to loosen it.

A steam pressure of 15 psi (1.0   bar) is sufficient for cooking wheat. At this pressure, batches can be thoroughly cooked in 30–35   min rather than the 2   h necessary for corn grits. At the end of the cooking period, the cook appears different from a corn cook. Corn rolls from the cooker as individual particles, which can be broken apart very easily. Wheat rolls from the cooker in rather tightly clustered balls ranging in size from that of golf balls to that of soccer balls. The pulling and tearing action required to pull these balls apart calls for a delumping system different from that for corn flakes.

Lump breaking

Lump breakers for wheat flakes are commercially made units usually consisting of a rectangular steel frame in which one or two horizontally rotating shafts or drums are located. In a one-shafted machine, a matching and intermeshing comb is mounted on the interior wall of the frame. The rotation of the drum forces the material through the comb, crushing it into smaller pieces as it goes. In a two-shafted machine, the shafts usually rotate toward each other at differential speed, with projections on each intermeshing, thus tearing and crushing the material.

More than one lump breaker is usually necessary in a wheat flake line, with those closest to the cookers performing the coarse breaking and those farther downstream performing the finer crushing. Screening operations between lump breakers separate properly sized material from the stream and return oversized material for further size reduction.

Large volumes of air are drawn over the product and through the lump-breaking equipment. This is needed to cool the cooked wheat back down to near ambient temperature and to skin over the individual pieces, so that they have a nonsticky surface. Wheat overcooked or too high in moisture becomes very sticky and difficult to process down to a dryable and flakable-sized particle.

The desired particle size for flaking is about 0.375 in. (1   cm) in diameter, with some particles as small as 0.125 in. (0.3   cm) and some up to 0.50 in. (1.25   cm). The particle size range determines the bulk density of the finished, toasted flakes and is the biggest factor determining the carton weight of the packed product.


Drying cooked wheat grits is not unlike drying corn grits. Wheat grits are somewhat more fragile and should not be beaten around mechanically to the point of generating fines that must be removed before flaking to maintain a correct bulk density of the finished product. Moisture is more easily removed from wheat than from corn. Excessive dryer temperatures have a darkening effect, which carries right through to the finished product. This is true of all grains processed for breakfast cereals.

The moisture content of wheat grits from the dryer should be in the range of 16%–18%. This is noticeably higher than that of corn flakes, one reason being that wheat flakes, unlike corn flakes, do not blister appreciably during toasting and therefore are not dependent on moisture content. Wheat grits are agglomerated particles made up of smaller particles stuck together. If they are too dry (12%–13% moisture), they shatter into smaller pieces when flaked, resulting in a finished product with higher bulk density. If the grits are too high in moisture content (19%–20%), they are too sticky and gummy for flaking. The flakes stick to the roll surfaces and are very difficult to scrape off.

Cooling and tempering

After drying, it is important to cool the grits well below 110°F (43°C) before placing them in bins to temper. If they are too warm going into a temper bin, the result is continued darkening, which carries over to the finished product. Tempering can also take place in a section of the conveyor at the end of the dryer if good humidity control can be maintained there.

The temper time for wheat grits is generally shorter than that for corn and does not exert as great an influence on the texture and appearance of the finished product, because wheat flakes do not blister during toasting.

Temper bins come in various sizes and shapes. Most consist of sides mounted over a slowly driven conveyor belt. They are loaded from an overhead conveying system in such a way that they can be unloaded on a first-in, first-out basis. This is most important. Usually some kind of raking device is needed to loosen the grits into individual pieces again.

After tempering, it is necessary once again to sift to remove fines and oversized grits. The latter are processed by a lump-breaking device and then resifted. The fines from this operation, plus those from other parts of the process and from packaging, are collected in a sanitary manner and added to subsequent cooks with new raw materials. If the amount of fines reworked in a cook is larger than about 100   lb (45   kg) in a 1000- to 1500-lb (450- to 700-kg) cook, there is a decrease in the consistency and the color quality of cooks and flakes as well as processing inefficiency.


Good-quality wheat flakes can be made without any further pretreatment of the grits before rolling and toasting. Because the physical composition of the bran particles in the grits is so different from that of the endosperm, there are many points in the flake for uneven heating∼and drying during toasting. This characteristic improves the texture of the finished flakes, as it causes them to curl during toasting. A slight to moderate amount of curling is desirable, making the flakes appear more appetizing and interesting. If the flakes are perfectly flat, they lack interest, and they tend to lie flat in the carton, resulting in an excessively high net weight.

The curling points in wheat flakes are at interfaces of materials of different composition (bran and endosperm), slightly different moisture contents, or different rates of heat transfer. The moisture content of finished toasted wheat flakes should be 1%–3%. Essentially everything already said about the toasting of corn flakes also applies to wheat flakes.

Rice flakes

The processing of rice flakes differs in only minor ways from that of corn flakes and wheat flakes.

Ingredients and formulation

Rice flakes can be made from head rice (whole grain) or second heads (broken pieces of whole kernels). From an economic standpoint, the latter are preferred. Whole grains are preferred for oven-puffed rice cereals, in which each kernel forms an individual piece

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