Jul 5, 2023
Research uncovers tools to decrease acrylamides in deep-fried potatoes

New research has uncovered tools for stopping the formation of acrylamides when deep-frying potatoes to make crisps.

The research, conducted by Norway-based SINTEF, one of Europe’s largest independent research organizations, and Norwegian food packing company Produsentpakkeriet, located in Frosta, has identified three key factors in reducing acrylamide formation, according to a news release.

Fresh deep-fried crisps from Frosta in Trøndelag. Probably the healthiest crisps on the planet. Photo: Lars Bugge Aarset

The three factors to achieving optimum crisp quality and minimizing the risk of acrylamide formation:

  • Use of the right kind of potato
  • Achieving the correct maturity before harvesting
  • Achieving a correct and tailored storage temperature

The acrylamide content in potato crisps is influenced by factors such as the potatoes themselves, storage conditions and the heat treatment process, according to the release.

“Here we face an additional challenge because colder growth conditions often mean that less mature potatoes are used to make crisps,” SINTEF’s Solveig Uglem, who has been heading the research team, said in the release. “Less mature potatoes contain more sugar, and this can lead to a higher acrylamide content in the crisps that we make from them.”

The three-year study has also probed simple methods of measuring the sugar content of potatoes. Such measurements, taken both before and after harvesting and while the potatoes are in storage, help to ensure that sugar levels are sufficiently low to enable the potatoes to be made into crisps.

The researchers discovered that measurements of sucrose and aspartic acid contents in potatoes offered the best indicators of the acrylamide levels that crisps will obtain after deep frying, according to the release.

“However, this method is slow and requires the use of expensive instruments,” researcher Erlend Indergård said. “We’ve found that measuring glucose concentrations using a blood sugar meter that anyone can purchase at a local pharmacy offers a quicker and more accessible means of getting an indication of whether a potato’s sugar content is too high.”

Measuring glucose content can give growers an indication of whether potatoes are harvest-ready, according to the release, and prevent the waste and financial loss incurred when potatoes with too-high sugar levels are rejected.

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