LIME OIL AND JUICE
The production of oil and juice on a commercial scale requires the use of a range of equipment
for washing the fruit, crushing, screening raw juice from course pulp and seeds and setting vats
for distilled oil production. Before considering the equipment in detail, the requirements for
lime fruit processing should be first assessed on the throughput of the crushing unit relevant to
the quantities of fruit to be handled.
It is generally accepted that the best compromise, from the point of view of both quality and
quantity of lime products, is obtained by processing mature but not fully ripe fruit, ie half
yellow/half green limes. Juice from unripe limes is said to have a more 'interesting' flavour than
juice obtained from fully ripe limes. The distilled oil from unripe fruit is also said to be superior
Preparation for processing
Only sound fruit should be crushed; over-ripe, rotten and damaged limes should be removed
Limes should be thoroughly washed with cold water before processing so that they are perfectly
clean when entering the crusher. This is particularly important when limes have been picked-up
from the ground as they may be very muddy in the rainy season and all mud must be removed.
Rotary cage-type washers work very well, also water jets can be sprayed on conveyor belts along
which the limes travel from the arrival point to the crushers.
Another conveyor belt, for final inspection, is needed to remove any damaged, fruit and to
transport the limes to the crusher.
The two main types of equipment employed for crushing limes are the roller-crusher or a screw
press expeller. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages:
Triple granite rollers crush the limes and press out juice and oil. As a result there is not a great
deal of fine pulp present in the raw juice and the product tends to settle fairly rapidly, settling
often being complete within 2 or 3 weeks. Rollers need relatively little adjustment, but cannot
extract at as high a rate as the screw press.
The throughput of limes is 1½-2 tons an hour, when using rollers 30" long and 10" in diameter,
but the actual throughput depends to a large extent on the efficiency of feeding the fruit to the
rollers. This size of machine should deal with about 100 tons of limes a week. The roller mill is
considered to give a good quality settled juice, with separation from top pulp/oil after about 2
weeks storage in vats.
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