Groundnut is also known as peanut. It is a legume that is valued for its edible seeds and oil content which ranges between 40–56 %.
Groundnut oil is cherished by consumers for its unique flavor and abundance of the powerful antioxidant tocopherol (vitamin E). It has a high smoke point of 229 °C making it ideal for frying purposes. The oxidative stability of groundnut oil depends on the ratio of oleic acid to linoleic acid, this ratio increases as the seeds mature and oil stability increases similarly.
Groundnut Oil Production involves these unit operations:
- Cleaning: is done to remove the sand, stone, and other impurities since groundnuts are harvested from the soil.
- Shelling: is done to remove the groundnut shell and expose the seeds. This can be done mechanically or by hand. Thereafter, the groundnut seeds are washed.
- Flaking: is done to reduce the seeds to flakes thereby increasing surface area and facilitating subsequent oil extraction.
- Conditioning: is done to prepare the seeds for pressing by adjusting moisture content to 7–9 % and temperature of the seeds to 80–100 °C Conditioning improves oil extraction, quality, and yield.
- Pressing: is done using a screw oil press which applies force on the flaked seeds releasing crude groundnut oil, leaving the cake behind. The cake can be further extracted for oil using a solvent or used as animal feed.
- Filtering: is done to remove impurities to obtain pure oil.
- Filling: Fill filtered oil into clean bottles.
- Labeling and Packaging: Seal and cover filled bottles. Label and package in cartoons.
Pure groundnut oil can be refined to enhance its taste, smell, color, and oxidative stability by degumming, neutralization, bleaching, and deodorization.
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