November 06, 2006
A whopper of an olive oil processing plant has been installed at Corto Olive in Lodi, California. The first phase of the plant is now processing 6 to 9 tons of olives an hour through a single Pieralisi SPI 444 centrifugal decanter. Corto Olive also has a Pieralisi Fattoria system installed last year as a trial for the larger mill - primarily processing Tuscan variety olives.
Brady Whittlow of Corto Olive Group
Like California Olive Ranch in Oroville, Corto Olive is processing their own olives which come from their several hundred acres of Arbequina and Arbosana variety trees which are now 2-3 years old. The dwarf variety trees are grown in rows and harvested with over the row machinery.
Interior portion showing malaxation tanks and decanter
The installation presented several challenges. The washer and deleafer are also some of the biggest units ever installed in California. Two dual grind mills reduce the olives into paste. There are 3 vertically stacked horizontal malaxation tanks with a capacity of 25,000 lbs which knead the paste to break the emulsion and release the oil.
The SPI 444 horizontal Decanter separates the paste into olive oil and a watery waste containing the flesh, skin and pit fragments at a throughput of up to 9 tons per hour. The river of oil coming out, up to 6 gallons a minute, is sent to a pair of vertical separators.
Decanter with U shaped flow meter in foreground
Waste paste or pomace must be disposed of at a rate of tons per hour. Tractor pulled hoppers with cultivators attached plow the olive waste back into the rows between the olive trees at the same rate the trees are picked.
With trucks coming in with olives at a continuous rate, Corto Olive wanted close monitoring of throughput. Special monitoring equipment to track flow through each step of the olive processing was installed. Flow meters had to deal with the pulsatile action of the piston pumps necessary for the high volume of paste being transferred to each piece of equipment. For aesthetics, many of the outside panels on the equipment were installed with a custom stainless finish.
The Pieralisi equipment was purchased through the American factory representative, Lisa Deane of the Olive Oil Source and installed by Peter Webster and Mike Matthews and their team at Contec.