Tuesday, June 16, 2015

PEAS ON EARTH--The Next Step

From Field to Processor
Learning on the Land-Part 2

Once harvested, the peas we saw being harvested in the morning (see Part 1) are trucked from H.T. Rea pea field to Smith Frozen Foods, Inc. in Weston, Oregon. In 1952, twenty food processors existed in the Blue Mountain region including canneries and frozen food processors. Today, Smith Frozen Foods is the only processor left in the Blue Mountain region.

Before being weighed, the peas are dumped into a huge hopper where the process begins to separate the round green peas from any extraneous pods or field residue that may have been collected. Even with the best harvesting techniques, some foreign material makes it through to this first stage of processing and must be removed before the peas are weighed and the farmer gets paid for his peas.

In addition to weight, random samples are taken from every load of peas to test for maturity grade using this machine--a tenderometer. The maturity grade is important to both the processor as well as the grower as a basis for establishing value of the crop and payment by the processor. In short, tender peas pay more to the grower.

Separating good peas from the field detritus is a three-stage process where the peas are rolled, tumbled, and sifted . . .

. . . until only the best whole peas remain to be washed, blanched, and quick frozen. 

Stay tuned for Part 3 to see that process. Click here to see Part 1.