There are many treats I can forgo in life but chips (as in crisps as opposed to the fish n chip variety) are not one of them.
My passion for various gourmet treats waxes and wanes but chips remain a constant.
Over the years I have created many a hiding place for my chips so that small prying hands keep well out of the way.
With my chip habit there is a certain amount of snobbery and not just any old chip will do.
A stint living in Sydney saw Smiths original chips become a firm favourite and therefore I was thrilled to see Heartland creating something on the local market that is pretty close to Smiths with lovely long crinkles and the flavour just right. However, in the last few years my chip allegiance has swung in the direction of another chip with not a crinkle in sight, Proper Crisps.
Being such an avid chip fan I managed to wriggle an invite to visit Proper Chips factory to see the whole process (and eat chips of course). My kids were amazed that their mum was off to Nelson to eat chips!
What started out as a small boutique chip business, Proper Chips now has a firm hold on the local market with placement in both of the major supermarket chains and gourmet stores such as Nosh. Air New Zealand give them to their premium customers and mums like me hide them in their cake mixer bowl so the kids don’t see them. Their crisps are also now being exported as well.
Not bad for a company that hit an already saturated market of chips that can be half the price!
Having never been to a chip factory before I had little to compare it to but the thing that struck me most was how hands on the whole chip making process is and is very much more about people than machinery. Of course I don’t mean that the lovely big Agria potatoes are hand peeled, as a machine gives them a peel and wash but there is someone there with eagle eyes who inspects each potato as it passes by and flicks out any little defects or discolouration that is likely to be off putting.
The chips are then mechanically sliced, dried and eased into vats of high oleic sunflower oil (kumara chips are cooked in rice bran oil) where they cook for 6 minutes or so. For those who like it simple, as oils in chips go this one is better than most.
The chips then head out for another manual inspection where quick hands pluck out any overcooked chips or defects. A few minutes working alongside a conveyor belt of moving chips has given me a new found respect for every pack I tear open. Thank goodness for job rotation.
The chips are then lightly salted with Marlborough sea salt from Lake Grassmere with a carefully measured amount to keep salt to a minimum without compromising flavour. Then it is either the addition of smoked paprika, rosemary & thyme or tiny crystals of cider vinegar. The delicate notes of the cider vinegar make other salt and vinegar chips seem mouth puckering astringent. The salt is kept to a minimum without compromising flavour and Proper Crisps pride themselves on keeping their fat content significantly lower than many other brands. The crisps are all gluten, dairy, MSG, GMO free, and vegan friendly, their key line being “100 per cent natural, with no compromises”.
Once seasoned the potatoes are channelled into their respective bags and sealed, making the whole process from raw potato to packaged chips all over in less than 30 minutes.
The potatoes are from selected growers in Pukekohe and Temuka and are the same quality as the spuds we cook at home. While Agria make the best chips they need to carefully handled and don’t like either too much movement or extremes in temperature. The delicate sugar starch balance can soon be thrown which could cause discolouration. For this reason the potatoes are rested after arriving at the factory and are stored at around 11°C.
The kumara in the kumara chips is from Kaipara and the parsnips from the cooler climates of Ohakune and Southland.
They are of course seriously delicious but of course should be kept as a treat food that isn’t eaten on a daily basis and should also come with a warning that once a bag is opened it is difficult to stop.
Thank goodness I don’t work in a chip factory.
Are you a chip fiend and if so which do you choose?
The potato chip market in New Zealand is estimated at $137 million annually.
Proper processes more than 455 tonnes of potatoes a year or 6000 x 150g bags of crisps a day.
6.3kg of raw potatoes convert to 1.8kg of crisps during the dehydration process.
Try adding a layer of Proper Crisps to your omelette just before you fold it over…
Parsnip Crisps add fabulous texture to salads and also provide a crunchy garnish to soups such as Leek and Potato.
Enter into the draw to win one of 3 packs of Proper Chips