Growing and harvesting your own fruits and berries is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of maintaining a garden. Whether caring for a few small fruiting vines or a larger-sized backyard orchard, it’s important to properly handle your harvests to ensure the longest possible storage length.
In storing the fruits, growers will be able to enjoy homegrown produce throughout the growing season and into the winter months. Cooling is a big part of that.
Why Does Fruit Need to Be Cooled?
Post-harvest cooling of fruit is used both commercially and by home gardeners. Cooling fruit is important for maintaining the quality of the harvest.
Removing excess heat and bringing the temperature of the fruit down to an optimal level will help stop the ripening process. By reducing the rate at which the fruit matures, you can store fruits for longer periods of time with reduced instances of mold and bacteria, which would cause the harvest to begin to decay.
Cooling is especially helpful to market gardeners, as they are able to better supply fruit according to the demand and needs of the customer.
How to Cool Fruit
The best method used for post-harvest cooling will depend on the type of fruit. While some berries are more delicate, other tree fruits may be able to better handle certain fruit cooling procedures. Regardless of the method, it will be vital that the fruits are picked at the correct time. Harvested fruit should be ripe, yet still firm enough so that it will not decompose during storage.
Common methods for cooling fruit implement the use of cool air and/or cool water. Forced-air cooling is especially popular, as it is an excellent way to bring down the temperature gently. This method of cooling is done when the fruit is placed in a refrigerated area with the addition of a fan to circulate the air. Though this method is widely used in the commercial setting, many home gardeners are able to create their own adaptation of this technique to cool their own fruit harvests.
Another method of cooling fruit is called hydrocooling. As the name would imply, hydrocooling uses cold water to quickly remove excess heat from the harvest. Hydrocooling can be done with the use of special cooling mechanisms, or simply with the use of ice. This simplicity makes it an excellent option for use at home. Some fruits, however, respond better to wetting than others since wetting may cause the progression of rot.
When learning how to cool fruit at home, harvesting at the correct time will help achieve optimal temperatures more quickly. This includes harvesting early in the morning and removing the heat as quickly as possible.
Cooling fruit that has been harvested from the garden can be challenging, but following a few simple procedures will allow growers to store their harvests for the greatest duration possible.