Firm, chewy, and bouncy: GEA strikes the right balance for perfect noodles

GEA offers turnkey solutions for the noodle processing industry 

The origin of noodles – now one of the best-loved traditional foods in Asia and elsewhere – dates back to ancient times. They are an extremely versatile product, which can be combined with a wide variety of ingredients and adapted to a variety of recipes and cooking methods to suit different eating habits: boiled in salted water, fried or stir-fried in a wok, and then served with meat, fish, or vegetables.

Companies today are increasingly focused on healthier types of noodle, launching gluten-free, MSG-free, low-salt and low-fat products, or noodles made using wheat, oats as well as healthier and fresher ingredients, with the inclusion of more vegetables or ground meat. GEA designs and installs turnkey process lines tailored to customers’ specific needs. Its expertise enables the company to optimize each production step, taking care of every detail and aspect of noodle production. The processing technologies developed focus on the noodles’ unique taste and texture. As a result, GEA’s technology experts have encapsulated an eating tradition going back thousands of years in a high-quality and fully versatile product that is suitable for any preparation method or recipe. 

“We pay great attention to hygiene and safety aspects. All of our lines are CE, ATEX, and MOCA certified. In addition, our process lines are designed to last and require minimal intervention. Built using durable materials, the machines are designed to simplify maintenance and prevent product deposits. Thanks to their high degree of automation, GEA machines maximize efficiency and ensure consistent quality,” explain Davide di Nunno, R&D Director and Nico Scattola, Sales Area Manager.

The right mix
GEA supplies a wide range of machinery from standalone components to fully integrated solution lines. Everything starts with the right mix of components. GEA’s high-capacity continuous dough mixers can be equipped with various optional devices, including gravimetric dosing units as well as multiple liquid ingredients/additives dosing, fast pre-mixing, semi-automatic washing, and CIP systems. 
 
The perfect shape: sheeted or extruded
Noodles can be produced in the form of round nests, square cakes, or in multiple-layer bundles. They are made either by passing the dough through sheeting rollers and then cutting the flattened dough using slitting rollers. Alternatively, they are extruded using a special continuous press where the dough passes through an extrusion die, allowing the formation of all kinds of noodles.

Multiple lamination units with automatic gauging control systems laminate the dough to obtain sheets of the right thickness. Four to five lamination rolls are then arranged in a row to thin the dough step by step.

The GEA xTru Cooker is the best choice for producing all-cereal gelatinized noodles through a continuous, automatic, and reliable process with little operator intervention required. This model is a six stages single screw low shear cooking-extruder. Instead of applying traditional pressurized batch cookers, there is the option of using native raw flours and cooking in a continuous extrusion cooker. This will drastically reduce raw material costs and ensure precise control of all parameters, resulting in an excellent and consistent product. This specific application is the result of GEA’s experience in the production of continuous cooking extruders, achieved through more than four decades at the forefront of cooking extrusion processes. 

Creating a noodle nest
Located at the end of the extruder, the nesting machine is one of the most distinctive parts of the noodle production line. The well-designed headpiece of the GEA xTru extruder regulates the flow pressure, ensuring the extruded product flows evenly over the entire die surface. The dough is then equally distributed when inserted into the die. This guarantees that a homogeneous product with precise shape and weight enters the nesting machine. The nesting machine is composed of two cutting units – an upper and a lower unit – equipped with rotary blades and fixed counter blades that continuously cut the extruded product and precisely define its length thanks to the adjustment system. Once cut, the product is conveyed into the forming tubes where a powerful jet of compressed air controlled by the pneumatic system gives the nest its final shape.

After that, the nest is unloaded onto the forming cups, which are then conveyed on a belt to the heat treatment area. Attention to hygiene and cleanliness is a prominent feature of all of the machinery that makes up GEA production lines. The nesting machine is no exception: Made of stainless steel, it is equipped with a waste recovery system that optimizes production while at the same time ensuring ease of cleaning.

Thermal treatment
Further thermal treatments include high-performance steaming units as well as fast or super-fast, medium, or high temperature continuous dryers. These were developed based on our experience with dry pasta and are suitable for the production of low-fat noodles. Drying is an important, smooth, and stable process, with gentle variations depending on the product and ambient conditions. Generating the right specific microclimate is the key to guaranteeing the most efficient drying profile with the lowest energy consumption, thus reducing the machine’s energy footprint. The keywords for GEA’s thermal treatments are: hygienic execution and easy maintenance, proper insulation, active thermal control (ventilation flow, correct temperature profile), full parameter control, cleaning, energy efficiency, and low TCO.