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  • Author or Editor: Peter Toivonen x
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The research was conducted to first determine the commercial reality in regards to effectiveness of hydrocooling of sweet cherries (Prunus avium) at commercial packing houses. Temperature data obtained from the commercial studies were then used as a guide to evaluate the effect of small differences (0.5, 3, and 5 °C) in sweet cherry core temperature on the quality retention of ‘Sweetheart’ sweet cherries over 6 weeks of storage to simulate container shipment. Sweet cherry core temperatures after in-line hydrocooling and at the time of packing were generally around 3 or 5 °C. Once palletized and placed in commercial cold rooms, the internal boxes of a pallet did not cool any further. Only when a pallet was exposed to direct airflow from cooling coils did the exterior boxes in an assembled pallet show any further reduction in core temperature of packed sweet cherries. Experiments to evaluate the differences in quality retention at close to ideal core temperature (0.5 °C) vs. at more typical 3 or 5 °C core temperatures demonstrated significant decline when the two higher temperatures were maintained over 6 weeks of storage. Sweet cherry firmness, titratable acidity, and stem removal force value declines in storage were significantly affected by these small differences in core temperature, showing the best retention at 0.5 °C. Stem browning increased significantly with 3 or 5 °C storage by 6 weeks of storage. Decay was also significantly increased with warmer temperatures, but the results were variable likely due to differences in fruit infection at the time of harvest. Soluble solids were unaffected by storage temperature, and weight loss and pitting severity were somewhat affected. These results support the need for post packing cooling of sweet cherries as the core temperatures achieved by in-line hydrocoolers during packing do not reduce temperatures sufficiently to ensure good quality retention over longer periods of time that are required for container shipping to export markets. Therefore, forced-air cooling is recommended to further reduce sweet cherry temperatures in the box, before shipping.

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Use of sprays to sanitize and treat apple (Malus ×domestica) slices helps to reduce the potential for cross-contamination that can occur when treatments are done in dip tanks. This research examined several factors that may affect the efficacy of spray treatments: 1) spray volume; 2) efficacy of spray application of anti-browning solution (ABS) compared with dipping; 3) effect of slice density during spraying; and 4) effect of the addition of an antimicrobial compound, vanillin, on microbiologically associated browning. Low-volume sprays (36-50 mL·kg-1 slices) of ABS gave maximal control of browning and this was equivalent to the control afforded by a 2-minute dip in the ABS. Spray application resulted in significant reduction in incidence and severity of microbiologically associated “secondary browning” as compared with dip application. However, if more than one layer of slices were present on the support mesh during the spray treatment, then secondary browning increased. This was attributed to potential cross-contamination between layers of apples in the spray treatment. Addition of vanillin into the ABS resulted in a 50% reduction of the incidence of “secondary browning.” Low-volume spray applications of ABS can be managed such that the microbiologically associated “secondary browning” is much lower than possible with dip application.

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The splitting of sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) just before harvest can be a considerable problem in the Okanagan Valley (BC, Canada). In an attempt to minimize economic losses, growers apply a commercial cherry cuticle supplement in anticipation of a rainfall event. However, it is unknown if this product affects flavor, texture (crispness, firmness, and juiciness), or visual characteristics (stem browning, pitting, and pebbling) of sweet cherry. Therefore, this research was undertaken to evaluate the effects of a cherry cuticle supplement on the sensory, physicochemical, and visual characteristics of ‘Skeena’ sweet cherry. Firmness measurements were assessed with a fruit-firmness tester, whereas sensory determinations were assessed at first bite (whole-cherry crispness) and after multiple chews (flesh firmness) by a panel of 14 trained panelists. Fruit treated with the cherry cuticle supplement had lower instrumental firmness compared with the control, which was most pronounced after 28 days, with a reduction of 0.53 N. Treated fruit also had significantly lower sensory firmness and higher juiciness than the control fruit. Fruit treated with the cherry cuticle supplement had reduced water loss, less pitting, and lower stem-pull force, resulting in higher frequency of detachment of the stems. Further research would be necessary to evaluate the effects with other cultivars, and in years with rainfall events, as well as when hydrocooling is used.

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