When storing fresh produce, such as fruit and vegetables, you must ensure appropriate measures are in place to lengthen storage life and maintain quality. Cold storage, from small modular units to complete storage fit-outs, is crucial for your business if you play a part in taking fresh produce from the field through to the consumer. Here are some helpful tips on getting the best from your fruit and vegetables:
Store Fruit and Vegetables Separately
Vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers and potatoes are sensitive to ethylene, a chemical emitted by many fruits including apples, peaches and tomatoes. When exposed to this chemical, it causes cells to degrade and leaves to droop, where some other side effects include yellowness in broccoli and Brussels sprouts as well as a bitterness in carrots.
Therefore, to avoid this ruining the storage life and quality of produce, fruit and vegetables should be stored in separate environments.
Hygiene Is Top Priority
Hygiene is absolutely paramount when perishable goods are present, and whilst both temperature and humidity contribute to the healthiness of these items, the sanitation of the facility itself is another major factor. A cold storage solution constructed from hygienic food-safe panelling will ensure that produce is kept in a clean environment, free from bacteria and other harmful organisms.
Know Your Temperatures
All fruit and vegetables have a ‘critical temperature’, below which the produce will be affected undesirably, such as blackening and softening in carrots. Therefore, produce must be stored at above this temperature to maintain life and quality longevity. As there are many factors that contribute to a specific fruit and vegetable’s optimum storage temperature, take a look at the sample table below for a guide:
|Apples||0 – 4||Cold, moist|
|Berries (Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries etc)||-1 – 4||Cold, moist|
|Cucumber||10 – 13||Cool, moist|
|Oranges||0 – 4||Cool, dry|
|Peaches||-1 – 0||Cool, dry|
|Sweet potatoes||13 – 16||Warm, dry|
|Tomatoes||13 – 21||Cool, moist|
Control Your Humidity
It is true that produce stored in a low humidity environment can become dehydrated, while fruits and vegetables in a highly humid facility will develop frost, quickly deteriorating their quality. Having a refrigeration system in place that maintains humidity stability at all times, relevant to the type of item stored, is really beneficial for freshness and longevity.
The contamination of produce from pests and rodents such as rats, mice and cockroaches can have devastating effects on a business’ supply. Contaminating goods with faeces, urine and other biological waste, not forgetting the spread of various diseases, such creatures will find their way into storage areas through small cracks and holes. Therefore, every area of the cold storage unit needs to be tightly sealed during construction, achieved through highly skilled and accurate installer workmanship.
Check, Check and Check Again
Whilst most refrigeration systems can be relied upon to maintain a constant temperature throughout a cold store, they cannot take into account the number of times doors are opened and closed or the movement of personnel within them. Monitoring the internal temperature periodically will help identify any refrigeration issues efficiently and prevent bacteria growth. Data logging systems can be used to automatically record temperatures and send alerts when there is a fluctuation.
Stancold have over 70 years of experience in installing food-safe and hygienic panelling to create temperature-controlled environments for the food and drink industry. If you have an enquiry about the best way to preserve your business’ fresh produce, please get in touch on 0117 316 7000 or e-mail us.
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