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1. CASHEWNUT PROCESSING

The raw cashew nuts are procured from the local farmers and local market. These cashew nuts are dried in the sun for a period of two days and are then stored in the gunny bags for processing through the year. The process of sun drying helps in removal of excess moisture thus resulting in longer storage. The processing of cashewnut is a four stage process, each designed to produce quality edible cashew kernel.

* Steam Roasting

The outer shell of the raw cashew nuts has to be removed to produce the edible cashew kernel. The outer shell of the cashew is very hard and it contains a corrosive oil which is harmful for human consumption. The process of steam roasting helps in removal of this hard shell with minimal effort. The raw cashew nuts are put in a drum connected to a mini boiler. The steam from this mini boiler is passed over the cashew nuts placed in the drum for a period of 10 -15 minutes. These cashew nuts are left in the drum for 20 minutes for proper roasting. The roasted cashew nuts are then taken out of the drum and placed in the open air for a period of around 12 hours to let them cool down and help in removal of the cashew shells.

* Shell Cutting

The roasted cashew nuts are then taken to the cutting department to remove the outer shell. This is a complex process and requires highly skilled labour to get maximum unbroken kernel output. This process required each cashew nut to be individually placed between blades of the machine operated manually to remove the outer shell. This process results in production of cashew kernel with soft inner shell. These nuts are then placed in a oven which is constantly maintained at a temperature of about 60 degrees for a period of 24 hours to make the inner shell brittle.

* Peeling

The inner shell of the kernel has to be removed to produce the white nuts. The peeling process is designed to remove this inner soft shell after the kernel is removed from the oven. The kernel is used for peeling after it is left in the open for a period of 12 hours. This cooling helps in peeling process. Each nut is individually peeled to get white nuts. These white nuts are then sent to the grading department.

* Grading

The process of grading is designed to sort the white cashew kernel into different grades. The white kernel is divided into two main types wholes and pieces. The wholes are further divided into 15 grades and the pieces are divided into 9 main grades. The process of sorting wholes and the pieces is based on the size, color and texture of the nuts. The sorting is done based on the set international sizes. These nuts are then once again placed in the oven to make the nuts crispier before they are sent to the packaging department.

* Packing

The cashew kernel are packed into plastic bags of different sized for sale in local market and in tins of 10kgs for sending to other markets.

 

2. VANILLA PROCESSING

Post-harvest processing and curing of the vanilla beans is an important part of the vanilla cultivation. To get quality-cured beans, one use the experience gained along with sound technical know-how.

* Harvesting

Vanilla beans are ready for harvest in six to nine months after pollination. The beans are harvested one by one when they are fully-grown and as they begin to ripen. At this stage, beans change their colour from dark green to light green with yellow tinge. The well-ripened ready beans detach easily from the bunch just by lifting them in reverse direction whereas the immature beans are very difficult to detach. As the green beans do not have any aroma, the processing and curing of these beens should start within a week of harvest.

* Grading

The grading of the vanilla beans is done based on the size and appearance of the beans due to the high correlation between these factor and the aroma of the beans i.e. the vanillin content. The beans are classified according to their length into three main categories. After sorting the beans are washed with fresh water to remove any dust present on the beans.

* Killing

Graded beans are transferred to a bamboo basket and immersed in hot water at a temperature of 65oC for periods varying between 4 minutes to 1.5 minutes dependig on the length and size of the beans.

* Sweating

The beans taken from the killing process are then kept in a wooden box lined with blanket for 24 hours, for sweating. The temperature is initially maintained at around 45 degrees. The beans attain a light brown colour and start imparting aroma at the end of sweating process.

* Sun drying

Later on, the beans are spread in hot sun (from 12 noon to 2 pm) over wooden loft on a clean black blanket. The temperature of the bean, at this time is to get raised to 55oC. After 2 hours of sun drying, they are bundled together covered with same blanket and kept in sun for half to one hour, so that, sweating initiates there itself. Later on, the bundles are transferred to the sweating box. This process is repeated for 2-7 days depending again on size of the beans. At the end of this period, the beans lose half of initial weight, turn to a shining dark brown colour and develop wrinkles. This process improves the aroma of the beans.

* Slow drying

The next step involves the spreading of the beans in racks kept in well-ventilated room maintained around a temperature of 35oC and relative humidity of 70 per cent. The duration of slow drying depends on size of beans and varied from 2-8 days to 20-35 days. On completion of slow drying, the vanilla beans get brownish black in colour and become supple. They offer a soft leathery touch; can be rolled around finger easily and regain the shape. The moisture content at in the beans at the end of slow drying is around 30-32 per cent.

Source:sahakarifarms