Why is Post-Harvest Cooling Important?
Harvests from across the United States are often shipped out of the state where they were grown, with increasing amounts of harvests being exported to Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Pacific Rim countries. For producers of fruit and vegetables to successfully compete in these distant markets, they must be able to overcome the detrimental effects of shipping. The goal then is to minimize post-harvest losses—primarily through the use of cooling.
When produce is shipped or stored above or below optimal temperatures, the quality can be significantly degraded. Managing temperature is critical to reduce losses during the many transitions produce will see throughout the supply chain. While it is necessary to practice good sanitation in the field and throughout the entire harvest and post-harvest, maintaining proper temperatures through rapid cooling significantly reduces the development of decay in most produce.
Pathogenic microorganisms grow best at warmer temperatures, although certain produce is injured at chilling temperatures. Even in chill-sensitive produce like tomatoes, it remains essential to remove field heat as quickly as possible. Rapid cooling allows produce to be shipped to distant markets while maintaining quality.
What’s Involved in Commercial Cooling?
Commercial cooling involves the rapid removal of field heat to temperatures approaching optimal storage temp. This is the first line of defense in halting the biological processes that can lead to spoilage. This cooling, together with refrigeration during subsequent handling, provides a “cold chain” throughout the supply chain—from packinghouse to supermarket.
There are many types of cooling, including forced-air cooling, room cooling, hydro cooling, contact icing, top icing, package icing, and vacuum cooling. Contact icing is used for cooling and temperature maintenance during shipping. The heat from the product is absorbed by the ice; as long as contact between the produce and the ice is maintained, cooling is rapid, and a high humidity level is maintained.
Contact icing can come in the form of top icing or package icing. Top icing involves placing flake ice over the top layer of produce packed in a container prior to closure. Since the ice only comes into contact with the top layer, this method can be too slow, in some instances, to keep produce from spoiling. Package icing distributes the ice within the container, resulting in faster, more uniform results.
Howe Ice and Post-Harvest Cooling
Howe Corporation has a wide variety of solutions for cooling your post-harvest produce. We fully understand how important it is for you to cool your just-harvested produce and prolong the shelf life by delivering the produce to market fresher than your competitor. You will increase your revenues and avoid spoilage by using Howe Corporation’s ice flaker machines.
In fact, you can ship your products around the globe when you know you have the coldest, longest-lasting ice preserving your produce. Our machines are built tough, to run regardless of outside temperatures or conditions. Replacement parts are easy to get, and the sales and service staff at Howe are outstanding. Contact Howe Corporation today for all your cooling needs.