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< prev - next > Food processing Fruits vegetables and roots KnO 100202_Cold storage fruit veg (Printable PDF)
Deterioration of fruits and vegetables during storage depends largely on temperature. One way to
slow down this change and so increase the length of time fruits and vegetables can be stored, is
by lowering the temperature to an appropriate level. It must be remembered that if the
temperature is too low the produce will be damaged and also that as soon as the produce leaves
the cold store, deterioration starts again and often at a faster rate.
It is essential that fruits and vegetables are not damaged during harvest and that they are kept
clean. Damaged and bruised produce have much shorter storage lives and very poor appearance
after storage. Dirty produce can introduce pests and moulds into the store.
The produce should be harvested carefully using a sharp stainless steel knife. The fruits and
vegetables should not be placed on the ground where they could pick up dirt. Either a clean
harvesting basket or clean mats should be used.
It is essential that the fruits and vegetables are harvested at the correct harvesting time.
It is important that the produce does not get dirty or damaged during handling. Careful handling
should be the rule. The best option is for the produce to be prepared for storage in the field and
placed carefully in the storage containers used in the cold store. This considerably reduces the
amount of handling and will keep damage to a minimum. It is essential that the produce is
handled and placed in the store as quickly as possible as delays between harvesting and cooling
can substantially reduce storage life.
If the produce is dirty it should be cleaned before storage. The water used has to be kept clean
or fungus spores will be spread throughout the produce.
Some fruit and vegetables need their outer leaves removed before storage. However, usually it is
better to leave the leaves on during storage to reduce moisture loss, and then remove them
before sale.
Preliminary cooling (Precooling)
Dipping the produce in cool water to remove field heat can reduce the energy requirements of
the store. However, this can spread fungus spores throughout the produce. A suitable
alternative is to pick the produce either early in the morning when it is cool or late in the evening
and leave it overnight to cool down.
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