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  • Author or Editor: Marcos D. Ferreira x
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Hydrocooling was evaluated as an alternative to forced-air cooling for strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) fruit. `Sweet Charlie' strawberries were cooled by forced-air and hydrocooling to 4 °C and held in different storage regimes in three different trials. Quality attributes, including surface color, firmness, weight loss, soluble solids, and ascorbic acid content, pH and total titratable acidity, were evaluated at the full ripe stage. Fruit hydrocooled to 4 °C and stored at different temperatures for 8 or 15 days showed overall better quality than forced-air cooled fruit, with significant differences in epidermal color, weight loss, and incidence and severity of decay. Fruit stored wrapped in polyvinylchloride (PVC) film after forced-air cooling or hydrocooling retained better color, lost less weight, and retained greater firmness than fruit stored uncovered, but usually had increased decay. There is potential for using hydrocooling as a cooling method for strawberries.

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Strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) fruit are very susceptible to mechanical injury and for this reason are normally field-packed. Fruit of three cultivars (Chandler, Oso Grande, Sweet Charlie) were subjected to forced-air or hydrocooling to reach pulp temperatures between 1 and 30 °C and then individually subjected to compression and impact forces representative of commercial handling operations. Strawberries with a pulp temperature of 24 °C exhibited sensitivity to compression but greater resistance to impacts. As pulp temperature decreased, fruit were less susceptible to compression as shown by up to 60% reduction in bruise volume. In contrast, strawberries at 1 °C pulp temperature had more severe impact bruising with up to 93% larger bruise volume than at 24 °C depending on the cultivar. Strawberries also showed different impact bruise susceptibility depending on the cooling method. Impacted fruit that were forced-air cooled had larger bruise volumes than those that were hydrocooled. The impact bruise volume for strawberries forced-air cooled to 1 °C was 29% larger than for fruit hydrocooled to 20 °C, 84% higher than those forced-air cooled to 20 °C, and 164% higher than those hydrocooled to 1 °C. Because incidence and severity of impact and compression bruises are temperature-dependent, strawberry growers should consider pulp temperature for harvest scheduling and for potential grading on a packing line. Hydrocooling shows promise to rapidly cool strawberry fruit while reducing weight loss and bruising sensitivity.

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