Pistachio Harvesting & Processing - Small Is Beautiful

Delicious and decorative pistachios are also one of the world's great health foods having more protein vitamins and anti-cholesterol substances than other nuts and most other foods demand for them is rising fast across the globe the pistachio trees grown for millennia in the arid areas of Central Asia and on the fringes of the Mediterranean able to produce crops in conditions of intense heat and bitter cold as well as tolerating so line conditions pistachios can drive their roots up to 30 metres into the ground to secure vital water growing them requires patience as the first crop may take five years or so to arrive but the trees can remain fruitful for more than a hundred years pistachios naturally have a sprawling habit but in modern plantations are generally trained to an upright habit which makes mowing and harvesting easier they usually grafted onto rootstock trees which give resistance to nematodes and root diseases this rootstock species is pistachio Terra Business which gives earlier cropping and tolerance to low fertility soils other roots dr. confer vigor and so on you can see where the pistachio vera cropping conv has been grafted on top of this root stock having cared for the trees all year harvesting and processing must all happen within a few weeks and many potential growers are frightened away from ground pistachios by the perceived difficulty and expense of the processing phase this video shows that small to medium scale harvesting and processing is feasible for growers and will give them the opportunity to produce top quality nuts and add value through processing and marketing their own products harvesting takes place in autumn and whilst it's often done manually by picking or knocking it can also be done using partial or full mechanization a small part of the crop may be sold at a premium price as fresh nuts in which case handpicking or gentle shaking onto padded catches is used but most nuts will need to be processed within days of harvest mechanized harvesting can be economical even for plantings of only a few hundred trees in countries with high wage costs and can be done by contractors who use tree shaking machines with catchers often used for other crops like almonds and olives however trees to be shaken should be trained to a single stem of at least 750 millimetres to enable an effective shake here is a simple frame they used by pruning team to train trees for an umbrella shaker Harvester large-scale harvesting involves large machinery and significant labour crews but more nimble single operator machines exist harvesting over 60 trees per hour and catching up to 600 kilograms of nuts before unloading in this small-scale operation most of the nuts from a day's harvest are progressively stored in a cool room at two degrees centigrade it holds about five tonnes of nuts and they're withdrawn for D hulling and drying as allowed by the speed of the processing equipment the bins are tipped into a receival hopper and conveyed into the D Hollow which rips the fleshy outer layer off the nuts sending the cleaned nuts in one direction and the holes to have been for composting nuts with kernels sink to the bottom of this flotation tank and nuts without kernels known as blanks float off the full nuts are then dried to below six percent moisture to avoid any chance of fungal growth this can be done in the Sun or using dehydrators powered by gas or oil or electricity this Italian oil fired machine was built specifically for not drying and uses continuous mechanical mixing and hot air rising through the column of nuts to achieve even drying about 20 hours is required to drive four cubic meters of nuts weighing about two and a half tons dried nuts must be stored carefully to avoid infestation by insects or the effect of oxygen which leads to rancidity plastic barrels or metal drums with plastic liners can be topped up with food grade carbon dioxide to avoid these problems and to enable easy tracing of batches drum handlers are available to make this a safe and convenient handling system they're able to lift and tip full drums at a controlled rate unfortunately some of the nuts will not be naturally split which could lead to frustration in snack consumers and in cooks who want to include pistachio kernels in their recipes separating the split from non split nuts is normally done in Australia in the USA using large needle Pickers so the hunt was on for a compact grading machine to do the same job this machine from grease grades nuts by elevating them to a hopper and ordering them to a series of inclined gutters from which tiny saw teeth book each nicely split nut a rapidly rotating brush which the length of the gutter brushes the hooked nuts of the Sawtooth into a caching hopper that delivers the split nuts to an outlet from which they're elevated to a manual grading built any second grade nuts are removed before storage and packing for market the non split nuts continue down the original gutter and discharged through another outlet the non splits and nuts with very narrow splits that would also frustrate snackers are fed into the hopper of a patented Italian shelling system which is designed to delicately smash each shell without damaging the kernel to large wheels with curved teeth rotate through the reservoir at the base of the hopper each tooth picking up one nut and transporting it to the top position where it's struck by a spring-loaded captive bolt that shatters the shell the ingenious mechanism is activated by a second set of teeth on the same wheel which drawback a spring-loaded hammer which when released strikes each captive bolt in turn the reach of the captive bolt is determined by the adjustment of the spring this enables nuts of different sizes to be cracked for instance this machine also shells pine nuts the de Quino family have been refining the system for generations and Jim Carr Lodi Aquino customs the machinery to suit particular pistachio varieties that a processor is handling the long thin Italian variety napolitana requires refinements slightly different from the squatter australian sororo nuts the second phase of shelling is the separation of the whole kernels the cracked pieces of shell and the odd bit of kernel damaged in the cracking process Jim Carlo explains de cuatro pasado uno due tre Quattro law shear el producto de Samet esto viene selection ah Dona parte de shelled pistachios anchor entero que very nice on a llama you know de la traviata le cose dato gary yo con la pocha de la croatie los picado well oh yes pakka meta-analysis ela volver al agua Bootle la la soto si la Bucher surah butcher yes everyone was tbo Valois see now Walter Chautauqua passing will among the final process is aspiration the sucking of small pieces of shell from the hole kernels and separately the same process for the pieces of kernel the hopper feeds the raw material onto a vibrating screen subject to a strong air suction from above which lifts the lighter shell fragments away from the kernel and traps them in a bin that can be emptied from time to time a force of suction can easily be varied to see a small-scale application of giancarlo system we visited none zo Carter Leonie who controls the processing and sale of his certified organic prop in Sicily securing excellent prices he uses a simple dry D challah as the whole crop of nuts will be shelled for the intense green Napoletana kernels sought after by gourmet cooks worldwide to provide unique color and flavor to their food his D hold pistachios are dried on polymesh ground sheets another good reason that Sicilians shell virtually all of their main variety is that it has a very low split rate whilst the Australian sororo variety usually delivers a split rate of over 85% napoletana achieves about 20% this medium scale processing company has used a battery of eight of Giancarlo's cellos discharging onto a bank of large vibrating screens four separate kernels from shell and a large suction system to remove small pieces of shell a number of plants of this size operate around the town the Sicilian pistachio industry has carved out a world market niche with it's bright green pistachio kernels and reinforces its unique asset through the pistachio festival held in the town of Bronte brings thousands of people from around Italy in the world to celebrate the green gold school children are given authentic pistachio ice creams chefs judge Italy's top pistachio cake and the public indulges itself in hundreds of pistachio products from pistachio paste to pistachio pasta in fact a perilous perambulation of products thank goodness pistachios are so healthy in Australia the pistachio industry has a long way to go in terms of public awareness but demand is rising and the industry has significant potential the food forest is a small Australian pistachio producer with around a thousand trees and wanting to retain organic status guarantee of origin and control over marketing has invested in smaller medium scale processing equipment it's found excellent outlets for its pistachios not least of which has been its local farmers market where it receives full retail price directly from the shoppers it's going to demonstrate its compact processing solutions and share its skills and facilities so that regional communities around Australia can have the option of local growing processing and employment based on the green gold of this resilient tree crop you
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