The trend of anything and everything artisan has been significantly increasing these past years. Artisan can be defined as a worker that is skilled in a specific craft that creates things by hand while artisan food is something that is produced in smaller batches and made using traditional methods and tools. Millennials are said to be the biggest movers and shakers of the artisan trend, as they are looking for brands that are unique, authentic, and transparent versus just grabbing something off the shelf or mass-produced.
One of the traditional snacks that have made it into the artisan movement… artisan chips! Whether it is potato or other vegetable chips, handcrafted chips have made it big as they are cleaner and better snack alternatives, still indulgent but healthier. Since artisan chips are made using traditional methods and ingredients, preservatives and additives are usually not part of the formula.
- In 2018, the specialty food sales or the artisan brands, hit $140 billion in sales, and growing 9.8% in the last couple of years. And it seems, the trend is not slowing down anytime soon.
- The invention of the potato chips was said to be something unexpected. There was a story that in 1853, a customer was complaining to a chef that his fries were too think. So, the chef cooked paper-thin potatoes until they became crisp. However, mass-produced potato chips only became widely popular in the 1920s.
- Wondering why there is so much air and space inside chip bags? It serves as a cushion to prevent the chips from crumbling and breaking. But it is not just regular air, as it will turn your chips rancid, but nitrogen gas.
- Before it was mass-produced, in the old days, potato chips were sold in bulk through mom-and-pop shops and had to be delivered and consumed immediately.
Artisan chips have also become another snack alternative, for people who can’t stop snacking, but are looking for a healthier option. Cottage industry makers, pubs or taverns have been making their versions of artisan chips of different kinds – whether made from potato or other vegetables or fruits. Some artisan chip producers have also made it big and found deals of online or store distribution, making it easier for people to find them.
Production & Farming in Texas
With cottage industry players and farmers markets abound in Texas, it is easy to find and purchase freshly made artisan chips – and what makes it even more irresistible to buyers, that they get these mouth-watering chips from farm straight to their table (or straight to the mouth if you can’t be bothered), without preservatives, additives or extra sweeteners and salt and sometimes with options to cater to their diet preferences.
Preservatives, Additives, and Chemicals
True to its being artisan, most artisan chips are made and marketed as all-natural and without any additives or preservatives added. Just plain chips that was fried and seasoned. But as some bigger brands join the artisan trend, and as more tasty flavors and seasonings are added to the chips, one can see extra ingredients on the list.
- Maltodextrin – a polysaccharide that is commonly added to packaged foods to improve its flavor, thickness, and shelf life. This white powdery substance is derived from corn, rice, potato starch, or wheat, however, it is highly processed, using acids or enzymes. Maltodextrin is considered by the US FDA to be a safe food additive and is counted in the total carbohydrate count in the food’s nutritional value. There are warnings that the maltodextrin may have a high glycemic index and might pose an issue for those with diabetes. But this substance is usually present in small amounts in food and therefore won’t have that much significant effect if taken moderately.
- Citric acid – This is commonly found in citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges, and the likes. However, there is also a manufactured form that is used as a food additive and can also be found in cleaning agents and nutritional supplements. This manufactured citric acid is used to preserve the ingredients, to boost acidity in its contents, and to enhance the flavor. This is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA.
- Monosodium Glutamate – also known as MSG, this food additive can be derived from a non-essential amino acid, the glutamic acid. This is usually used to enhance the flavor. But there is still a controversy and a debate if MSG poses health risks. Some report to have experienced adverse effects such as headache, numbness, weakness, flushing, and muscle tightness. It was also linked to weight gain. However, there are still no official studies and conclusions if MSG is safe or dangerous for consumption.
Local or directly sold artisan chips are usually packed in paper bags or pouches. Smaller portions are also available as compared to the huge potato chips. Meanwhile bigger brands sell artisan chips in sealed bags just like regular potato chips.
Do we need any special reason or occasion to eat chips? Just like any regular potato chips, it can be consumed as an appetizer in restaurants while waiting for your meal, as a great side dish while drinking and hanging out, while watching movies or TV shows, or just pretty much anytime and anywhere!
If you have leftovers, just make sure to get most of the air out of the bag then carefully fold it to seal the bag. Some use clips to seal the chips and some do some intricate folding of the bag to keep it closed. Others suggest that putting the chips on the freezer might keep it fresh longer.
Cooking Homemade Potato chips
Want the crispiest potato chips? Bon Appetit shares the secret: low frying temperature and a vinegar soak to make them crisp!
- 1 ½ lbs. russet or purple potatoes
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
- Vegetable oil for frying (about 8 cups)
- Kosher salt
- Slice potatoes about 1/8 of an inch thick. You may use a mandolin to keep the slices even.
- In a large bowl, place the sliced potatoes, add cold water to cover the slices and drain to release the starch. Repeat several times until the water runs clear.
- Return drained potatoes to the bowl and cover with distilled vinegar and 6 cups of water.
- Let sit for about 30 minutes to 2 hours. Drain and then pat dry.
- In a medium heavy pot, pour in oil up to about 4 inches deep. Use medium-high heat and let the oil heat up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a deep-fry thermometer to ensure the temperature.
- Fry the potatoes in batches. Make sure that the temperature does not go below 300 degrees in every batch. While frying, turn the potatoes occasionally to cook them evenly until they turn crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes per batch.
- Once done, transfer to a paper towel-lined rack and season with salt.