In the past, people used salting and drying methods to help preserve the flavor and freshness of their foods. As time passed however, new advances have been made in this industry to extend the amount of time that food can be preserved. These innovations can retard the growth of bacteria and sometimes completely eliminate it entirely while improving the flavor of preserved foods.
A highly popular technique among producers is extrusion. This involves taking the food and creating a mass of particulates that is somewhere between a liquid and solid before pushing it through a small hole. Now many common products can be delivered in different way, with many interesting shapes and textured being created for consumers. Extrusion techniques can help to convert raw foods into products that are more easily finished.
An extruder machine performs all of these processes automatically. There are a number of different die shapes that can be attached, using a screw to feed the raw material into a desired shape. Many times the entire process can be done under high temperature and pressure, simply to get the right shape and texture before preparation. This helps to derive one of the biggest advantages of using extrusion technology in the food industry and that is the preservation factor. It is also used to curtail any water-related effects from this raw stock. Bacteria and micro organisms are significantly reduced as well, leading to a lower rate of spoiled food. Many different foods are currently using this form of technology since it is conducive to longer shelf life, and this include such varied items as snacks, breakfast cereals and different bakery items.
Since ready to eat snack foods continue to be one of the largest areas in the food processing industry, the techniques used in extrusion have already made great inroads into this area as well. Almost every cereal on the market uses this process at this time too. Almost anything involving the use of grains and their by-products go through some form of extrusion. Pet foods are also prepared this way.
Since it can help to get foods ready quickly and also is great for preservation, extrusion techniques are found in the plans for armed forces, special diets, and very widely employed in the aftermath of natural disasters. There seems to be no end to the number of products that extrusion has affected and will continue to grow as new ones are created as well.