Plant Processing Equipment
We process plants for a variety of reasons. Two of the most common reasons are for food and fragrance. Before many plants can be used to their highest potential, they need to be properly prepared. Rendering and processing equipment ranges in size and price. What you choose is decided not only by your budget and space, but by how much material requires processing. No matter what or how you choose to render your plants, always work in a clean area with sterilized utensils.
Use pure, clean lard for enfleurage. Enfleurage is the process of collecting essential oils from plants. Clean pieces of bark, petals, roots and leaves are placed on shallow pans filled with clean lard. The pans are then covered and allowed to sit for as long as needed for the lard to absorb those oils. Several changes of what you’re extracting may be required to get enough workable oil.
Use alcohol—strong inexpensive vodka works well—to extract the oils from the infused lard. Accomplish this by cutting the solidified lard into manageable pieces and soaking them in the alcohol for days to weeks. The length of time depends on the temperature, plant materials and alcohol used.
Use steam distillers to extract oils for perfumes and medicinal purposes. Steam distillers range in size from small, stovetop set ups to elaborate, copper basins and tubing. Steam distillers work on a simple concept—heat. Boiling water creates the steam that vaporizes essential oils. This infused steam rises, collects and then drains into a holding tank.
Use food mills made from stone, metal or wood to grind grain and other plant matter. A good quality mill with produce consistently ground products with minimal effort. Mills range in size from handheld to large enough to require their own buildings.
Use dehydrators to remove moisture from food. Once the water has evaporated, food has a longer shelf life. Low heat is used to dehydrate different foods including fruit, meat and vegetables. Dehydrators are simple to elaborate in their designs. Purchase solar powered and electric dehydrator models online, through mail order catalogs or by looking though sales papers.
Use batch cookers for drying, hydrolyzation and sterilizing your raw materials. You can create your own batch cooker or purchase one already made. Batch cookers rang in size from small enough to fit your stovetop to industrial size. Industrial sized models are capable rendering massive amounts of raw materials.
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