Good Fruit Grower

May 15

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20 MAY 15, 2016 Good Fruit Grower S cientists at Washington State University are testing a three- prong approach to reducing splitting of fresh cherries during storage, which can be a signifi- cant problem for the industry. Packaged cherries absorb mois- ture during storage. As the cherries go through physiological changes and the pressure inside the fruit increases, the skin becomes thinner and the fruit tends to crack. Dr. Girish Ganjyal, food processing specialist at WSU, is leading a project to address the problem with these techniques: —Applying edible coatings that serve as a barrier to prevent the cherries from absorbing moisture. —Removing excess surface moisture from the cherries on the packing line. —Packing cherries in desiccant-em- bedded polyethylene bags to absorb excess moisture inside. Initial trials were conducted in 2014 at WSU's Pullman campus, and in 2015 three trials were conducted in packing houses. Ganjyal and his colleagues found that using air knives to apply pressurized air to the cherries in the final section of the packing line reduced the amount of moisture going into the packages with the cherries. The type of drain belt had a significant effect on the amount of mois- ture removed. Drain belts with bigger holes worked best. Lab studies, using a scanning electron microscope, showed that cherries have an uneven surface and excess moisture can pool in pores. The scientists decided to test whether an edible coating could smooth out the surface to reduce the amount of water that accumulates on the surface and is then absorbed by the cherry. Controlling cherry cracking Cherries Reducing moisture uptake can help prevent cracking in storage. by Geraldine Warner Top: A packing line with an air knife installed. Bottom: A packing line without an air knife. Notice the water droplets below. Photos courtesy Washington state university In trials, using air knives to apply pressurized air to the cherries in the final section of the packing line helped reduce the moisture getting into packages with the fruit.

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