Happy Friday! Hope you enjoyed the first part of the Love Your Lentils tour I attended. Part II includes how lentils are processed.
After checking out the farming of lentils, we headed over to the Saskcan Pulse Trading Plant, where they process and export lentils and other specialty crops.
“Saskcan Pulse Trading operates 12 facilities across Western Canada including the largest lentil and pea splitting plant in the Americas, expanded capacity in lentil and pea processing at other facilities and new platforms for bean and chickpea production.”
The welcoming staff first showed us some of the machinery they use (on a much smaller scale).
This machine sorts out the lentils from other products that may get into the batch, such as wheat. They are very careful to make sure this process is thorough since lentils are a gluten-free product, and you wouldn’t want any wheat sneaking in there. What is left over can often times be used as feed for cattle and other animals.
This other machine actually removes the outer layer (seed coat) from the lentil, along with splitting the lentils in half. By splitting a lentil, the seed coat around the lentil has been removed and the inner part of the lentil has been split in half.
Again, this machine is a much smaller one just to show us how the process is completed.
These are split red lentils which I heard are really difficult to find in the states. By splitting the lentils, it allows for a much quicker cooking time.
Here is the outer seed coat that is leftover. It is unbelievable how these machines are able to do this so quickly.
The staff took us into the back and showed us around a bit more. Their system is very organized. These bags list the farmer, grade of lentil, and date to keep track of the batches. That’s a lot of lentils!
I didn’t get too many clear photos of this, but here is one of their larger machines. This one I believe is sorting along with removing the outer skin of the lentil. Due to the high emphasis on machinery in their plant, it allows for a smaller staff.
I had no clue how many different sizes and varieties of lentils there were! I have only tried green lentils up to this point.
Nearing the end of our tour, the staff showed us how they transport the lentils via train. Don’t worry, no trains were coming!
We had time to get a good photo op, of course. Me along with fellow RD, Gloria.
The next day, we headed to the University of Saskatchewan Food Development Centre. “The Food Development Centre offers one-stop full service assistance to food processors wanting to add value to their products. They help provide Saskatchewan producers and food processors explore different value added opportunities in the food industry. “
So basically, if you have a recipe you are looking to develop they can help you expand those possibilities. So neat!!
The staff at the food centre provided us with a great presentation outlining their company and processes.
They also had a few of their products made at their facility, made with lentils of course, to sample.
Lentils are a great source of fiber (1 cup cooked = 15 grams), protein, iron, potassium, folate, and manganese. So you can see why it would be a great idea to incorporate them into different snack items.
We sampled a lentil cupcake (great flavor but a bit dry)…
lentil cheese straws (delicious)…
and my favorite were these lentil date balls. Made with coconut, dates, lentils, and sunflower seeds from what I could tell, these were delicious-and packed full of nutrients and flavor!
Roasted lentils which were also one of my favorites!
They reviewed with the group the steps from taking a simple product idea and turning it into a commercial product to sell on the market.
A common machine they often use is called an extruder. An extruder helps to mix ingredients together. They showed us various molds they use to yield certain shapes, for instance the lentil cheese straws.
After taking a tour of the facility (sorry, no pics allowed) the staff took us down to where they store various equipment.
They have so much equipment!! If you want to make bars, jams, microwave meals, you name it… they have just the equipment for it! Everything is on wheels making it easy to maneuver.
I can see swanky bars coming out in stores in the near future.
I hope you enjoyed part II. Next up, some of the delicious eats we enjoyed while in Saskatoon!
What lentil product would you be most likely to try? What types of lentils have you tried?
*disclaimer: I was invited on the love your lentils tour. My opinions are honest and my own.