So, we're almost caught up now, so just a few last photos will get us up to the New Year! Hurrah for a burst of posts!
Anyway, this week we have an update for you on the state of the pine nut business. And business is booming. Or, well, more like humming. Loudly. But more on that in a bit. As you can see above, on Christmas Day we took delivery of the equipment that will process our pine nuts. I didn't really want to work that day, but it's not celebrated here in North Asia and it just so happened that the guy who was travelling in to setup all of our equipment could only be here on the 25th. C'est la vie.
We did our family Christmas on the 26th instead, which in previous years wouldn't have bothered our boys as they wouldn't have known unless we told them. Unfortunately they've learned to read a calendar this year, which led to much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth at the delay for Christmas! But I'm getting off track.
Anyway, stage one was to get all the equipment into place. In the foreground you can see the first separator, it separates our nuts into different sizes. Behind it, next to the car (which obviously won't be there when production begins!) is the machine that actually shells the nuts. Then, to the right, the second separator which separates the shells from the nuts, etc. Behind that there is another machine to peel the shelled kernels, and over to the right there will eventually be a washing station.
The separators required some adjustment after a test run to get them running properly; apparently we'll be doing a lot of this so I had to learn how to do it all.
I'll try to put up a video of this as well so you can see what happens. Hopefully you'll be able to tell that what comes out is some shelled nuts, a lot of nuts with cracked shells, and some shells already separated from the kernel. This mixture then goes into the second separator (being worked on in the picture below the video) to put these into separate containers for further processing.
Finally, you wash the nuts, then dry them, and then they go through a machine that peels the membrane from the kernel itself (sort of like the red membrane on a peanut). What comes out of that machine looks like this (in box) with the peels at bottom on the green bag.
Interestingly, you can sell these peels, which are light and fluffy and have a wonderful smell of pine, to companies that use them to make pillows!
Even better, of course, are the wonderful nuts (seen above in the box) that you can then sell for a lot more than you paid for them. Best of all, perhaps, is the option of eating them, but at the prices they sell for we can't afford to do much of that!
And that, dear folks, is how pine nuts are processed. If we get more lights installed in the facility I'll take better videos and pictures one day, promise. For now, we only ran a couple of bags through the machines to test them; everything is still packed up until construction of the building is complete. Getting close on that, though, most of the walls are in now, just a few more to finish, a good cleaning and a bit of plumbing and we'll be done! Well, and a ventilation system and a fire safety system to meet code. And then we'll be done, and ready to start doing this a lot more!
Thanks for stopping by; see us again in a week or so when ... well, I'll think of something to post. Hopefully.