Steven Sargent, a postharvest specialist and professor at the University of Florida, recently spoke on the importance of rapid cooling of leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and basil, after harvest. He also discussed his research on temperature management of Florida blueberries and peaches.
Sargent discussed two methods of rapid cooling in order to quickly prepare a crop to be sold. The first method is using a cold room with high-velocity air to cool the crop, or forced-air cooling. The second method is immersing the leafy vegetables in ice water. The ice water instantly cools the crop and decreases the chances of water loss.
The rapid cooling methods are best for growers who send their crops to be sold in separate markets, Sargent says. Rapid cooling is important so the crop can preserve its quality while it is transmitted to the market and waiting to be sold on the shelves.
Sargent also spoke about temperature management and cooling methods of Florida blueberries and peaches after harvest. He recently completed a two-year research project experimenting with different methods of temperature control. The research was funded by a grant from the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation. Sargent has asked for a six-month, no-cost extension from January to June to continue the research.
His blueberry and peach research has focused on comparing forced-air cooling with hydrocooling. Sargent says more work with peaches has been done in the field where cooling rates have been directly compared. The hydrocooling method was found to be much faster than forced-air cooling.
Another aspect of Sargent’s research is evaluating the possible benefits of forced-air cooling versus hydrocooling after storage. “If you’re a shipper and want three weeks of shelf life on your peaches, does it matter whether you use high-velocity air (forced-air cooling), or do you need to go the next step, a little costlier step, in using hydrocooling?” Sargent asked.
With the extension of the grant, he hopes to have a clearer answer to that question by summer.
Listen to the full interview:
Share this Post