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Forced Air Cooling of Packaged Strawberries
Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org
Citation: Paper number 036208, 2003 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.14159) @2003
Authors: Brent A. Anderson, Arnab Sarkar, James F. Thompson, R. Paul Singh
Keywords: Strawberries, forced-air cooling, precooling, 5-down trays, 7/8th cooling time
To avoid decay of strawberries, it is important to cool strawberries quickly after harvesting and
to maintain refrigerated conditions during distribution. In recent years, one-pound clamshell containers
with hinged lids have replaced many of the open-top pint containers. In addition, there is an increased
retail demand for a standardized larger tray that fits into a five tray per layer pallet configuration. The
strawberry industry is interested in package designs that maximize cooling rates.
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In this study, cooling rates for pallets of packaged strawberries were determined at commercial forced air
cooling facilities. Eight different treatments were tested consisting of strawberries packaged in different
clamshell container and tray designs. One packaging treatment had a six tray per layer pallet
configuration, while the others were of a five-tray configuration. Five layers of fruit were used for each
Cooling rates were determined by calculating both the 7/8th cooling time and the cooling coefficient. Air
temperature was found to vary significantly during cooling, which impacted the 7/8th cooling time
calculation. Therefore, the cooling coefficient, using the measured air temperatures at each time step,
was found to be a better and more objective method. Cooling rates were significantly faster for the sixtray
configuration than for the five-tray configuration. These results can be used to help design better
strawberry cooling tests and strawberry containers for faster cooling rates. If the air temperature cannot
be held constant during cooling, the cooling coefficient based on instantaneous air temperature may be a
better means of comparison than the traditional 7/8th cooling time.