individually so that cold air from the ceiling blowsover or around the produce to contact all surfacesof the containers. Stacking containers for optimalcooling is a poor use of storage space because oncecooled, they must be restacked tighter. An air flowrate of 200-400 cubic feet per minute is necessary tocool produce. Produce will dry out if a high relativehumidity (90-95 percent) is not maintained.Containers should be well vented so as muchair as possible can circulate through them. Spacing between the containers and walls must be from 6to 12 inches, and between the boxes and ceiling, 18to 24 inches. Room cooling is not recommended for bulk bins because they contain a much greater massof produce than smaller containers.Proper design of the cooling room and refrig-eration equipment is necessary for room cooling towork efficiently. The refrigeration equipment must be capable of cooling down fresh produce within 24hours and of maintaining the storage temperatureof the produce. Normally, much larger refrigerationequipment is needed to cool down the produce thanto maintain the produce at a cool temperature.
Forced-air cooling is similarto room cooling in that produce is placed in a cold-storage room. Forced-air cooling is designed toforce cold air through produce containers insteadof around them. Converting existing coolingfacilities to forced-air cooling is practical andfeasible. There are variations of forced-air coolingthat fit specific container needs.The key to forced-air cooling is moving the coldair through the container and its contents. Impor-tant factors in container ventilation are location ofcontainer vents, stacking of containers, and sizeof the vents. Container vents should be alignedwhether the containers are straight-stacked or cross-stacked, to maximize air flow through the contain-ers. If vents are too small or too few, air flow isslowed. If there are too many, the container maycollapse. In this method, containers are stackedclose together (tight).Five percent vent-hole space per side and/orend is best. Liners, bags, wrappers, or dividers canslow the flow of air through the container, soprecooling produce is usually recommended priorto additional packing. The following are forced-aircooling alternatives.
A permanent false wall or air plenumcontains an exhaust fan that draws air from theroom and directs it over the cooling surface (Figure1). The wall is at the same end of the cold room asthe cooling surface. The wall is built with a dampersystem that only opens when containers withopenings are placed in front of it. The fan pullscold room air through the container and contents,
cooling the produce.
An exhaust fan is placed at theend of the aisle of two rows of containers or bins onpallets. The aisle top and ends are covered withplastic or canvas, creating a tunnel. An exhaust fandraws cool room air through the container vents
and top (Figure 2).
The exhaust fan may be portable, creating asingle forced-air tunnel where needed, or it may be part of a stationary wall adjacent to the coolingsurface, with several fans that create several tunnels.
A serpentine system isdesigned for bulk bin cooling. It is a modificationof the cold-wall method. Bulk bins have vented bottoms with or without side ventilation. Bins arestacked several high and several deep with the forklift openings against the cold wall. Every other
—sealed with canvas—in the stackmatches a cold wall opening. The alternate unsealedforklift opening allows cold air to circulate throughthe produce. Cold room air is drawn through theproduce via the alternate unsealed openings in the
stack and the top of the bin (Figure 3).
Hydro-cooling uses water asa coolant. Produce is either submerged or drenched
with ice water (32°F). Both produce and containers
must be water tolerant. The produce must alsotolerate low levels of chlorine (50-200 parts permillion chlorine), which is used as a disinfectant inthe water. Sanitation and daily cleaning are essentialto prevent storage diseases.There are two types of hydro-cooling systems—continuous and batch. The basic equipment in bothsystems consists of a water tank, pumps, a waterdischarge chamber, and the refrigeration unit.In the continuous system, produce movesthrough the water discharge chamber on a conveyorline. In the batch system, a pallet of produce isloaded in a chamber with the aid of a forklift, thencold water drenches the produce. The produce isremoved when it reaches the desired temperature.2