(42) Sun Exposures Impact the Postharvest Quality and Firmness of Harvested Bell Peppers

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  • 1 1Centro de Investigaciones en Alimentacion y Desarrollo, A.C., Dept. Postharvest Technology, Carretera Culiacan-El Dorado, Sinaloa, 80129, Mexico
  • | 2 2University of California, Dept. Plant Sciences, Davis, CA, 95616

Temperature management of fresh products begins with proper handling at harvest. Inadvertent abuses, such as lengthy delays to cool or exposure of harvested product to the sun, can detrimentally impact postharvest quality. We used mature-green bell peppers to determine the periods of sun exposure (midday during August in Davis, Calif.) necessary to affect quality attributes (visual appearance, gloss, weight loss, and firmness). Peppers were evaluated after cooling, storage at 7.5 °C for 3 or 7 days, and storage plus 2 days at 20 °C. The impacts of sun exposure, although sometimes barely detectable after cooling, became more noticeable once the peppers were stored. The additional transfer period to 20 °C after storage further accentuated the impact of the exposure. Depending on the experiment, sun-exposed areas reached 45 to 55 °C within 1 hour. Peppers typically lost 0.4% to 0.5% and 1.0% to 1.3% weight during 1- and 2-hour exposures, respectively. Changes in gloss and firmness (whole fruit compression and pulp penetration) were preceded by changes in visual appearance. Exposure to the sun for 0.5 hour did not impact postharvest quality of peppers. Exposures from 1 to 1.5 hours usually resulted in changes apparent only after the storage period. Such exposures are problematic in commercial situations because these peppers are unlikely to be eliminated during sorting on the packingline. Exposures of 1.5 to 2 hours usually resulted in an immediate change in appearance (pitting, blistering, color change).

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