ARCHIVED - New process to make high-quality starch noodles with Canadian peas developed

WarningThis web page has been archived on the web.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

On this page

Researchers at the Canadian Grain Commission have come up with a new process to make starch noodles using field peas instead of mung beans, the preferred choice for high-quality starch noodles. Their research shows that there is a simpler process for making starch noodles using field peas. Using starch from field peas to make noodles could be a cost-savings for manufacturers, as field peas are a third of the cost of mung beans. Field peas rank first in production of pulse crops in Canada. A potential switch to field peas to make starch noodles could also mean an increase in demand for this crop.

Technician collects pea starch noodles from the extruder

Grain Research Laboratory technician collects pea starch noodles from the extruder

Starch noodles

Starch noodles are an important part of Asian cooking and diet. Commonly called cellophane or glass noodles, they are known for their glassy, translucent appearance and are used in soups, stir fries and rolls. The traditional choice for making high-quality starch noodles is mung beans, a bean that is native to South Asia, but also grown in places like Australia and India.

Desired qualities

The qualities that customers look for in starch noodles are a bland taste and short cooking time. Consumers also prefer noodles that stay firm and unsticky when cooked. Starch noodles made from mung beans provide all these qualities, but are an expensive choice, as world production of mung beans is limited. Manufacturers want a more economical choice that can provide the same high-quality starch noodles.  

Traditional method for making starch noodles

Traditionally, starch noodles are made using a cylinder-type extrusion process. The process involves taking mung bean starch and mixing a small portion, such as 5%, with water and cooking it until it gelatinizes. This gelatinized portion is then added back to the remaining starch and more water is mixed in. Adding this gelatinized portion allows the mixture to form a paste-like consistency that can be put into a cylinder, compressed and extruded through a die to make noodles. The noodles are then cooked in boiling water, cooled in tap water and air-dried.

Noodle manufacturers using cylinder-type extrusion can use more economical starches such as pea starch, but the end result is usually a lower quality noodle. These noodles usually aren’t as good in texture or as transparent in colour as noodles made with mung bean starch.

New process for making starch noodles

High-temperature twin-screw extrusion

Our researchers have come up with a new process using more economical starches such as pea starch to make starch noodles with superior texture. This new process uses high-temperature twin-screw extrusion, a process that isn’t traditionally used to make noodles, but is commonly used by manufacturers to make cereals, snack foods and soy-based meat alternatives.

When using high-temperature twin-screw extrusion technology to make starch noodles, researchers start by feeding pea starch into the equipment. The pea starch is mixed with water to a moisture content of 30-40%. This mixture is processed at barrel temperatures that range between 70-100°C. The twin screws in the extruder rotate in the range of 100 to 200 rpm.

Close-up of process-Details in preceding text

As the screws rotate, the pea starch mixture travels the length of the barrel. It is mixed, heated, pressurized and cooked. The equipment’s heat is generated by the rotating of the screws and by externally heating the extruder barrel. The combined effects of mixing, mechanical shear and cooking within the extruder provide a gelatinized dough-like paste. This paste is extruded through dies which form the final starch noodles. The starch noodles are then dried, either at room temperature or in a dryer at 40°C.

Simpler way to make starch noodles

For manufacturers willing to adopt a new method and use new equipment, high-temperature twin-screw extrusion could prove a simpler and potentially more economical option for making starch noodles.

The high-temperature twin-screw extrusion process using pea starch eliminates 2 steps that are part of the traditional cylinder-type extrusion process. The cylinder-type extrusion process requires that a portion of the starch be pre-gelatinized before extruding the mixture through the die to form noodles. Cylinder-type extrusion also requires that the noodles be cooked in boiling water after being extruded. The high-temperature twin-screw extrusion process eliminates both of these steps as the pea starch is mixed with water inside the barrel, and the mixture is already cooked before it is extruded through the die. By eliminating these 2 steps, manufacturers could streamline their process for making noodles and increase productivity.

The flowchart shows a comparison of the traditional cylindar-type extrusion and high-temperature twin-screw extrusion processes for making pea starch noodles.

Flowchart of cylinder and twin-screw extrusion processes-Details preceding image

Benefits for manufacturers, producers

Our research with high-temperature twin-screw extrusion shows that there is a simpler process for making noodles that also uses more economical starches such as pea starch. High-temperature twin-screw extrusion technology could be adopted by existing noodle manufacturers to make high-quality starch noodles using pea starch instead of using cylinder-type extrusion. It could also benefit manufacturers that already use twin-screw extrusion technology to make other products, as they could adopt this process and expand their products to include noodles. 

For producers, this research could lead to increased demand for Canadian field peas in Asia and other countries. Noodle manufacturers in Asia could potentially see the benefits of switching from mung beans to Canadian peas. This new process also has the potential to open up markets to manufacturers in other parts of the world who are interested in streamlined processes and using more economical materials to make starch noodles.