Pickle Waste

July 8, 1993
Rev. Nov.'96

We recently had a chance to visit the Claussen pickle factory. The plant runs year around by bringing in cucumbers from all across the United States, especially Florida, plus Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and other countries.

The variety was impressive. They pack jars of spears, chips, relish and whole pickles. They have a whole pickle pack where the pickles are all standing on end, called a soldier pack. The biggest pickles they receive are about 6" long, and the biggest diameter is 3". They also pack five gallon institutional tubs.

Plant personnel always refer to the vegetable as pickles. Technically, however, the cucumbers do not become pickles until they sit in a sealed jar along with spices, salt water, and vinegar. This was significant in that it means that all the waste material going to the Vincent dewatering press is really cucumbers.

The plant runs two shifts, processing about 400,000 pounds per day. They have several each of both automatic bottling lines and manual filling lines. Typically they will run all chips for a day or two and then switch to all spears for a while.

Waste material is generated at every step of the way. Pickles are culled for discoloration, deformity, and size. Slices will be culled for something as simple as the way the cut goes through the cells. Stems are trimmed, as are the parts that protrude above the necks of the jars. Because of this, waste material seems to run about 5% of the throughput.

Some of the culls can be made into pickle relish. However, the market demand apparently is not near enough to use them all. Consequently large amounts of material were being sent to landfill.

To relieve landfilling expense, Vincent supplied a VP-6 press with a VS-12 shredder mounted at the inlet. This combination of equipment receives about 2,500 pounds per hour. The pressing operation divides the flow roughly half into press liquor and half into press cake. The liquor is discharged to the plant sewer stream, and the press cake is added to dumpster material. In this manner the amount of material going to landfill has been reduced by half.

Issue 5