Without the correct storage conditions, fruits will only stay fresh for a few days. We look at the 6 main factors that influence the quality and storage life of fruit.
- Time of harvest:
Each fruit will have a specific harvesting time, which if disrupted, can massively affect the quality of the fruit as it may have not fully matured.
Temperature is an important environmental factor in the post-harvest life of fresh produce due to its effect on biological reactions, including respiration. The purpose of temperature-controlled units is to slow down the growth of bacteria within fresh fruit. Without cold storage, most fruits will only stay fresh for a few days.
Water loss from harvested fruit produce is predominately caused by the amount of moisture present in the ambient air expressed as relative humidity. Controlling the humidity can result in the produce losing less amount of moisture, resulting in slowing down the ripening process.
- Controlled Atmosphere Storage:
Fruit life can be extended by both refrigeration and controlled atmosphere storage (CA). CA storage is where oxygen is kept at about 5% and carbon dioxide at 1-3%, while the temperature is adjusted according to the fruit. This controls the metabolic rate of the fruit, which enhances the colour, taste and quality of the produce.
- Ethylene gas:
Certain fruits produce a greater amount of ethylene gas than others. Ethylene is a gas produced from bacteria fungi – it is flammable and colourless. The effect of ethylene gas upon fruit is resulting in a change in texture (softening) and colour.
- Post-harvest treatment:
Rough handling during harvesting can have a drastic effect on the post-harvest quality or life of harvested fruit. Certain fruits will have methods to be adhered to in order to maintain quality.
The six points are all important components that need to be considered when looking at a controlling the metabolic rate of fresh produce. The ripening process may not be fulfilled if the storage conditions are not handled correctly. Different fruits have specific storage methods however all of the points discussed can influence the quality of fresh produce.