Food Processing

This industry is for the processing of nuts, popcorn, dehydrated foods like meats (beef/turkey jerky), fruits, vegetables and herbs.

All of the nuts, except for chestnuts have a hard shell that will break or shatter under pressure. It is important to size the nuts first, especially for hazelnuts, otherwise kernels will be split on larger nuts and smaller nuts will go right through un-cracked. Once the nuts are sized through screens, all of one size can be cracked at once. Before cracking the nuts need to be dried, they should be below 10% moisture level. If they have been properly dried in a dryer and have been stored in a dry location, then the nuts should be ready for cracking, roasting or coating.

Popcorn is made up of three main components; endosperm, germ and the pericarp. The endosperm is made up of soft and hard starch granules. The endosperm is always white or yellow in color and is a carbohydrate. The function of the starch is to provide energy for the living part of the kernel, more commonly known as the “germ” or “embryo.” The outer hull of the kernel is the pericarp, which is made of cellulose. The pericarp or hull is usually white or yellow in color, though the range of colors includes red, black and many colors in between. Popcorn is a whole grain maize product, it’s grown extensively in the corn belt states of the U.S., where the majority of popcorn sold worldwide is grown. Only popcorn kernels have the ability to pop.

Food drying, also called food dehydration, is the process of removing water from food, thus inhibiting the growth of microorganisms (enzymes) and bacteria by the circulation of hot, dry air through the food. Removing water from food is the easiest, cheapest and the most appropriate method of food preservation.