I eat a lot of ramen noodles and I am constantly amazed at how they manage to get exactly one teeny-tiny bit of dehydrated parsley into each flavor packet (or pepper seed shard in hot & spicy flavor). Never two, never none.
What marvel of modern technology does it take to make sure that exactly one practically microscopic bit of parsley goes into each packet? I have trouble visualizing the machine that could do such an incredibly delicate task.
I saw one of those “How They Make It” type shows that ran a segment on ramen but they failed to cover this all-important detail!
Usually it’s just another step in the manufacturing process. I would guess (and yes, I’m totally pulling this guess out of my ass) that the flavor packets are filled with the spice and seasoning mix in one step, in the next step the little bit of parsley or pepper is added, and then it’s sealed. I know that in canned pork’n’beans, the cans are filled with the beans in one step, and then the single bit of pork fat is dropped into the can in the next step (to fulfill the legal requirement of SOME bit of pork) before the can is sealed. I have seen several “How It’s Made” type shows, too, and this is always how they do it.
I find those shows totally addicting, by the way. I guess other people do too. Or possibly they’re very cheap and easy to make.
I can easily visualize a machine that can manipulate a hunk of pork fat. I imagine it just lops off that hunk from a gigantic slab o’ fat, one that just keeps getting fed into a cutter, right into the can.
But that teeny-tiny bit of parsley? Horse of a different color I say. I mean we’re practically talking an Intel clean room sort of precision here!
A quick google search shows parsley selling for around $4 for a quarter ounce.
If I were a manager at a ramen plant trying to maximize profits for ramen, which sells for 10-25 cents per 3-4 ounce package, that’d probably be one of the ingredients I’d be trying to strictly control too.
I’m not sure the exact machine used in that the parsley application but you can probably find one on a site such as this. You would need a metering system to control the flow of product and then some type of a pick-up to remove the parley sprig from the product stream. Introducing it into the finished product would be the easy part, a vacuum tube timed to release when the container is in position maybe. I would imagine a centrifugal type system for metering the parsley but there are a wide variety of innovative packaging solutions out there. The site linked above is just the tip of the iceberg. There are all sorts of interesting machines at packaging or automation trade shows.
You mean the one curly fry in my box of regular fries. Yeah, I’m pretty sure they’ve got some kind of policy; their hope is that you go, “Oh, a curly fry? This tastes pretty good, I think I’ll order them next time.”
As a professional chef, I would like to point out that a quarter ounce of dried parsley is a whole lot of parsley. In restaurants we get our dried herbs and spices, including dried parsley, in ~gallon-sized jars. That gallon-sized jar of dried parsley holds maybe 4 ounces of the herb. (Not at work today so can’t check to make sure).
I meandered around the site a bit, didn’t easily find any definitive specs on just how small their metering systems could go. However, I did notice that they do drug assembly lines, too, where ultra-precise metering would be absolutely necessary. I’m guessing we may have the answer right there.
That leaves me with two questions:
Why in the name of the Galloping Gourmet go to all the bother? It’s not like you can actually taste the parsley.
Where are you guys finding 10 cent ramen? Little did I know I was living large paying a quarter apiece!
I’ve definitely seen sales where ramen was 10/$1, if not even cheaper. Given, it was a while ago. I haven’t actually bought or eaten ramen in at least five years. (It’s apparently not good for me and I have someone watching that kind of thing now…)