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Post-Harvest Berries - "Temperature Control"

July 22, 2017

For fresh berry sales, the best management plan for ensuring optimum post-harvest quality will have to

include some type of temperature control. Fresh fruit is still respiring heavily when it is picked. In this process of respiration, as oxygen is consumed and carbon dioxide and heat are released, fruit sugars are depleted and shrinkage occurs. The rate of respiration is governed by temperature. Field heat should be removed from freshly harvested fruit as soon as possible. Research has shown that fruit cooled to 35 F within 4 hours with forced air cooling had significantly less decay (37 to 46 percent) after 10 days’ storage at 35 F than fruit that had been cooled to 35 F within 48 hours. The rapid removal of field heat with cold forced air is referred to as pre-cooling or pressure cooling. By moving cold air (via convection) across the berries, field heat can be removed in approximately 1 hour. From the moment produce is harvested, the clock starts ticking and produce decay begins. If produce is improperly handled during harvest and is damaged or bruised this causes the fruit to expend more energy faster than undamaged produce reducing its shelf life. Additionally, if harvesting conditions are not sanitary, bacteria has the chance to thrive as bacteria feeds off of stored energy. This results in more rapid decay and spoilage. Improper handling practices can increase water loss and respiration plus it provides an environment for bacteria or mold to grow.

 

Summary: National Aronia Growers, LLC policy is to receive berries from a grower that 1.

are premium berries free of foreign material (stems, leaves, dirt, weed seeds, insects, undeveloped, dried or substandard berries) 2. cooled to ~ 40° F. within 4 hours, 3. packaged in designated 30 to 35 lbs berry containers, 4. delivered to point of designation for processing and cold storage.

 

Other Resources:

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) & Good Handling Practices (GHP); US Dept. of Agriculture

FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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