Criocauterization; a new post harvest way of preserving fruits

For increasing the shelf life of some fruits which are highly perishable, new and innovative technologies are in continuous development.   The post harvest management is one area wherein the agriculture scientists are working day and night to increase the shelf life of fruits and prevent them from rotting. A new process has been introduced which is known as Criocauterization for the prickly pear fruit which deteriorates at room temperature. The fruit is treated with the dry ice on around 2000 fruits in consideration of the different harvesting environments of rains, clouds and the sun.  

The prickly pear is a highly perishable fruit – it starts to deteriorate after several days at room temperature. After two weeks, 70 percent of the fruit shows signs of deterioration. Mexican researchers have developed a criocauterization process that uses pneumatic pincers which presses the fruit against a dry ice wall within a thermally isolated chamber. For the study, 1.800 fruits per day were treated – taking into consideration the different harvesting environmental conditions (sun, clouds, and rain). 

The cold cauterization of the prickly pear proved to be an extremely efficient system to prolong the post-harvesting conservation. The fruit has been cauterized with dry ice at different pressures through robotic pincers. “The results showed that the criocauterized prickly pear can last up to 4 months – according to the researchers of the Università Autonoma of Chapingo (Mexico). Over 80 percent of the fruits were marketable 90 days after the criocauterization. 

The researchers explained, “The best criocauterization treatment for prickly pears was of 150 k Pa for 15 seconds. Because of this, it was possible to have up to 86% of marketable fruit after 90 days of conservation. The cauterization modified the heat transfer properties of the treated tissue between 5 and 10 seconds. After 3 hours, a protective film is already well-formed. Criocauterization proved to be a good alternative to extend the prickly pear shelf life. However, to get the best performance, criocauterization should be applied only on fruit harvested under dry condition.  

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