Chicory is a herb with blue flowers that look like cornflowers. It is distributed practically throughout the territory of our country, with the exception of the northern regions. Chicory is one of the most popular coffee substitutes. For the first time, it began to be grown as a root plant more than a hundred years ago in the Yaroslavl and Ivanovo regions, where it is still successfully cultivated for use in the coffee industry and confectionery industry.
The roasted chicory powder is added to natural coffee and used to produce surrogate coffee drinks. In addition, customized powder is used in the production of soft drinks to increase their taste and flavor. The most widespread is the production of chicory leaf variety Vitlouf.
Chicory contains the polysaccharide inulin (mainly in the roots), which is highly soluble in hot water. The characteristic bitter taste of chicory products is due to the high (about 70%) content of intibine glycosite in plant materials. In addition, chicory is rich in vitamins C, B, E, B vitamins, organic acids, choline, proteins, pectin, macro and micronutrients, mineral salts and tannins.
Of the greatest economic importance is the root subspecies of common chicory. It is used as raw material for the preparation of coffee chicory and one of the types of raw materials for the alcohol industry. The technology for the production of instant drinks based on chicory, replacing coffee, allows you to save the entire chemical composition of the plant with minimal losses. The most widespread are two types of instant drinks based on chicory: a liquid concentrate (whether an extract) and a powdered instant drink.
The first instant drink of chicory was obtained in the form of a liquid concentrate. This is due to the fact that plant raw materials have increased hygroscopicity, so it was not previously possible to produce it in the form of a powder. By the way, liquid chicory is still considered the most useful, since the extract is produced from the unroasted roots of the plant, which allows you to save all its beneficial properties. It is enough to add half a teaspoon of the extract to a glass of water to get a fragrant and healthy drink.
As technology improved, manufacturers were able to produce soluble chicory powder in several ways at once. The most common technology for producing powder from a liquid extract, since such chicory retains all its properties. There is another method for producing powder, similar to the technology for making freeze-dried coffee: chicory roots are pre-fried (as a result, the amount of inulin is reduced to 60%). Powdered chicory is also convenient to prepare.
Condensed soluble chicory is produced in jars of 325 g each. It looks like a pasty dark brown mass. In addition, chicory with condensed milk and fructose for confectionery, obtained from the roots of the plant, can also be found on sale.
Chicory-based drinks are positioned by manufacturers of products for a healthy diet as an excellent alternative to not very healthy coffee - natural or instant. At the same time, the prices of chicory drinks are quite comparable with inexpensive varieties of instant coffee. Since the taste of chicory is quite specific, to give it a pleasant aroma, various medicinal herbs, pieces of fruits and berries, blueberries, lingonberries, rose hips, extracts of ginseng, hypericum and other medicinal herbs, vanillin, cinnamon, and cocoa are added to the powder or extract.
Drinks that replace coffee are produced according to one technological scheme, which consists of several basic operations: preparing raw materials for roasting, actually roasting, grinding, sifting, mixing crushed components, packaging and packaging. Before frying, the raw material is cleaned of impurities. If there are any additional additives (coffee grains, cocoa, nuts, rose hips), they are cleaned of large and small impurities using a special separator with appropriate sieves. Chicory is cleaned of impurities on a borate, on which a wire sieve No. 5 is installed (size marking may vary). Then, after passing through the butyrate, the chicory is checked manually by the workers. They select large impurities, substandard (moldy or decayed) pieces.
Semi-finished products that have been cleaned fall into the fryers. Such an apparatus consists of a frying pan rotating on a horizontal axis, which is enclosed in an insulated casing. Under the roasting drum is a perforated sheet steel drum of the same construction in the casing, where the roasted raw materials are cooled. Both drums are interconnected by a product pipeline with a gate. In rotation, they are driven through a system of gears from an individual electric drive. The productivity of such a fryer is about 140 kilograms of fried product per hour, depending on the type of raw material.
The main disadvantage of inexpensive roasting machines is the lack of an automatic process control system. This means that the whole procedure should be carried out under the constant supervision of workers who monitor the progress of the process and systematically take samples to assess quality and compare it with the standard. In addition, the fried product in the steel drum cools longer because it is located next to the frying drum and has a common metal frame with it. A complete frying cycle takes up to forty minutes.
By standards, it is not allowed to fry the product at elevated temperatures (this is sometimes done in order to speed up the cooking time), as this can lead to darkening of the surface layer with the appearance of an unpleasant aftertaste. The optimal frying temperature is 800 degrees Celsius, and by the end of frying the product should have a temperature of no higher than 200 degrees Celsius. Raw materials must be uniformly fried on all sides without carbonization. Ready-made semi-finished products are cooled to a temperature of 40-45 degrees Celsius. It is impossible to take them out of the drum and store without cooling, otherwise the product may subsequently deteriorate.
After frying, the cooled semi-finished products are crushed on roller mills with corrugated rolls. And then they are sifted through a No. 1 sieve with 49 cells per square centimeter. After sifting, the products are again checked on belt conveyors for the presence of random impurities and passed through magnetic barriers to remove impurities. As a result, after all these procedures, a product should be obtained that meets the following requirements: passing through a sieve No. 1.6 with 25 cells per square centimeter - at least 100%, leaving the sieve No. 1 - no more than 15%.
Since roasting, crushing and sieving of all components takes place, as a rule, separately, then at the next stage they are mixed in accordance with the recipe on dosing and mixing equipment. This is the best option. Sometimes fried and chilled semi-finished products are first mixed, and then the mixture is crushed and sieved. The resulting product is produced in violation of the recipe and is of low quality.
Ready-made drinks are packaged on special equipment (similar equipment is used when packing ordinary coffee) in paper boxes with an inner “shirt” of parchment or parchment of 250 and 300 g.
Often when using outdated equipment at the enterprise that does not allow for high-quality processing of raw materials, the grinding is too large, and the fried and ground chicory is packed in filter bags, and then in cardboard boxes of 25-30 bags each. In this case, the coarse powder does not completely dissolve under the influence of hot water, but is brewed according to the principle of "tea bags". This form of packaging is also used in the presence of various additives that cannot be ground to a state of increased solubility.
The main problem that manufacturers of finely ground chicory powders are forced to solve is the high inulin content in this product. Under the influence of elevated temperatures, inulin changes its physical properties: it becomes viscous (“caramelized”). This can lead to sticking and damage to the equipment if the production technology is not followed. The powder itself is also hygroscopic and quickly absorbs moisture from the air, so the storage conditions of the product and its proper packaging come to the fore. The production capabilities of one line amount to 100 tons of finely chicory per month.
The technology for producing chicory extract is slightly different. Drinks based on chicory contain less volatile aromatic substances than coffee, so they can not only be dried, but also boiled in a vacuum apparatus with further drying or release in the form of a paste. In this case, dried chicory is first fried in a fryer, then fed to a roller mill, where it is ground. The crushed product is sieved through several sieves. The smaller semi-finished product is used to make coffee and other drinks, and the large screenings get into the diffusion battery, where water is added to it. Then the extract obtained again passes through the filtration system and is boiled in a vacuum apparatus. Then the product is packaged in glass jars or aluminum tubes.
Manufacturers of coffee substitutes are guided by GOST R 50364-92 “Food concentrates. Instant coffee drinks. Technical conditions. "
Soluble or ground chicory without or with various additives (blueberries, lingonberries, rose hips, extracts of medicinal herbs, cocoa, vanillin, etc.) is sold through retail chains, individual specialized diet food stores, tea and coffee shops, through pharmacy chains and the Internet. -the shops. One pack or can of chicory-based drink is sold at retail at a cost of about 50-100 rubles.
As a rule, the package provides complete and detailed information about the quality of the product, its taste, composition and health benefits. The number of companies producing healthy food products on the Russian market is not so large as abroad, therefore, there is little competition in this segment. To promote their products, manufacturers use traditional advertising, mainly in print media, on the Internet and in points of sale.
The starting capital necessary to create our own production of instant coffee-substitute drinks is about 3 million rubles. Used equipment will cost 1.5 million rubles. It is universal and allows you to produce not only chicory powder and extract, but also other types of coffee substitutes: drinks from acorns, rye, simple beans, and Jerusalem artichoke. The payback period of such production is 2.5-3 years.
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