Food Science Universe (FSU)

Hulled & Shelled Almond Processing

Chiefly almond is the edible seed that grows on the tree Prunus dulcis, more commonly called the almond tree. Medium sized trees of rose family, almonds contain the edible seed in the hard outer shell. The hull of almond split and the almond nut easily separates from the hard shell once it dries. Explicitly, 334,000 tons of shelled almonds get produced all over the world. Significantly produced by United states which accounts for 68% of the world production. Followed by Spain, Italy and Greece.

Hulled & Shelled Almond Processing Flow Chart

Hulled & Shelled Almond Processing Video

Considering Almond harvesting and processing a seasonal industry, it begins in august running for 2-4 months. Either manual harvesting takes place, by knocking the nuts from the tree limbs with a long pole, or mechanically, by shaking them from the tree. Almond processing occurs in two phases: post-harvest processing coupled with finish processing.

Soon the almonds reach the processing facility and are dumped into a receiving pit. Screw conveyors and bucket elevators transport the almonds towards a series of vibrating screen. Furthermore, the screen precisely removes orchard debris. In the same way, a destoner removes stones, dirt clods, and other larger debris. Likewise, a detwigger removes twigs and small sticks. So as to remove the particulate matter, the air streams from the various screens, destoners, and detwiggers ducts to cyclones or fabric filters. The recovered soil and fine debris, such as leaves and grass, varyare disposed of by spreading on surrounding farmland. The pre-cleaned almonds are transferred from the pre-cleaner area by
another series of conveyors and elevators to storage bins to await further processing. 

Belt and bucket conveyors convey almonds to a series of hulling cylinders or shear rolls, which crack the almond hulls. As a matter of fact, hulling cylinders are typically used in almond huller facilities. Huller/shellers use generally series of shear rolls. The cracked almonds are then discharged to a series of vibrating screens or a gravity table, which separates hulls and unhulled almonds from the in-shell almonds, almond meats, and fine trash. The remaining unhulled almonds pass through
additional hulling cylinders or shear rolls and screen separators. The number of passes and the combinations of equipment varies among facilities.The fine trash is ducted to a cyclone or fabric filter for collection and disposal.

In huller/shellers, the in-shell almonds continue through more shear rolls and screen separators. As the in-shell almonds make additional passes through sets of shear rolls, the almond shells are cracked or sheared away from the meat. More sets of vibrating screens separate the shells from the meats and small shell pieces. The Aspiration occurs in the shells which gets separated and further fabric filter collects it and sends to a  cyclone, and then they get conveyed to storage for sale as fuel for co-generation plants. The almond meats and small shell pieces are conveyed on vibrating conveyor belts and bucket elevators to air classifiers or air legs that separate the small shell pieces from the meats. The number of these air separators varies among facilities. The shell pieces removed by these air classifiers are also collected and stored for sale as fuel for co-generation plants.

Almonds By-Products:

1. Almond Meat:
Used for various purposes like in sweets, milk, nuts used in food and used in producing oils

2. Hulls:
Almond hulls are sold for animal feed, most commonly dairy feed. The hulls actually add nutrition to the animals diet and aid in healthy milk production. Growing up on my family’s farm, we used the hulls to feed our breeding sheep. It was cheaper than grain, helped to add nutrition to the animal diet and while filled them up faster.

3. Shells:
Almond can be ground up and used as bedding for garden planters and landscape material similar to wood chips. Moreover, almond shells are most commonly sold to co-generation plants to be used as a fuel source.


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