Excerpted from Fries!: An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Favorite Food by Blake Lingle, published by Princeton Architectural Press.
(steps vary by manufacturer)
1. Potatoes are plucked during peak season.
2. Potatoes are transported to a factory.
3. Potatoes are stored in a dark, temperature-controlled warehouse.
4. Potatoes are dropped onto rollers, which remove foreign matter such as dirt, rocks, plant parts, and the eyes of the potatoes.
5. Potatoes are washed with water jets in a revolving cage.
6. Potatoes are conveyed to a sorting machine that divides potatoes by size.
7. Potatoes are collected in bins.
8. Bins open, and potatoes are dropped into steamers.
9. Potatoes are conveyed from steamer to peeler, where large, rolling bristles remove skin.
10. Skinless potatoes are conveyed to workers who inspect and remove green or rotten potatoes.
11. Potatoes are sliced by either a rotatory cutter or a hydraulic system (running water that forces potatoes through cutting blades).
12. Pieces are passed by a camera and computer; those of substandard size are flagged and blown off the production line.
13. The good pieces are dropped into a water tank to remove sugar from the flesh of the potato.
14. Pieces are blanched: first cooked in hot water and then shocked in cold water.
15. Pieces are fried in oil for approximately two minutes.
16. Excess oil is knocked off on a grated conveyor belt.
17. Fries are passed through a freezer until frozen, which takes approximately ten minutes.
18. Fries are deposited by an oscillating conveyor into chutes; each chute has a built-in scale set to the package weight.
19. Fries are dropped into plastic bags and sealed.
20. Fries are stored frozen and then shipped across the world.