Saturday, 5 May 2012

Second pick and press

Last Thursday I went down to the grove for another trial pick and press.  The only helper this time was Tania, who lives locally and helps out on a casual basis.  She is only a tiny thing, but really strong and really energetic, so thanks mostly to her we picked nearly 80 kilos of Mission (a mix of green, turning, and ripe) in about 2 1/2 hours. The electric harvester which had lost a 'finger' last week I had 'repaired' with a wall plug and a screw.  It held together for about two minutes, so it is back to the drawing board to find better repair techniques.  Maybe just a bigger plug and screw? Fortunately it seemed to work just as well with only 4 fingers.  In the afternoon I put the fruit through the press.  This time I hitched up the de leafer, which blows the leaves out and washes the fruit before auguring it up to the press.  I have to watch it closely so it doesn't put too much fruit into the hopper, because then the hammer mill jams and it is a very annoying and time consuming process unjamming it - involving taking all the fruit out of the hopper, opening the press, undoing the hammer mill assembly and thrusting a scraper betweeen two plates to clear the bit of pit or whatever is doing the blocking.  I am getting quicker at it and can clear it in about 10 minutes, but I'd rather not have to. The pleasing thing about this pressing was that we got nearly 20% yield of oil, which isn't bad, and the oil was nicer than last weeks.  I'm not sure if that was because it was a different combination of levels of ripeness, or of using the de leafer so the fruit was cleaner and wetter, or because I was using a different setting on the centrifuge.  (You can change the settings according to the nature of the fruit you are pressing.)  Anyway - after settling I should have some good bottle able, saleable, oil!

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