Optimizing Your Banana Ripening Room for Ethylene Application
As the go-to potassium source, breakfast item, or quick energy supply, bananas are beloved to consumers worldwide. As a ripener, providing customers with the highest quality, perfectly ripened bananas available should be a goal across the entire fresh produce industry. The first step in providing customers with exceptional quality bananas is preparing and optimizing banana ripening rooms for ethylene application.
Preparing Your Ripening Room
Bananas bruise easily, green or ripe. Careful handling at all stages will reduce bruising and enable you to sell the bananas for more money. Beyond this, the following recommendations are suggested within banana ripening rooms:
• The room must be as airtight as possible to prevent too much of the ethylene from leaking out.
• Must be sufficiently insulated to be able to properly maintain the room temperature
• Must have adequate refrigeration; the refrigeration equipment must have the capacity to accurately control the pulp temperature.
• May need heating equipment to maintain proper room temperature in cold weather.
• Rooms should be constructed so that the airflow path from the refrigeration system, through the load, and back to the refrigeration system is unobstructed.
• Refrigerated air in the room must always circulate uniformly throughout the load.
• To ensure the best quality ripened fruit, we recommend consulting with room design & build experts.
Pressurized Ripening Rooms
Perhaps the most important advancement in fruit ripening since the advent of the banana box is the development of Pressurized Ripening Rooms. The key feature of these rooms is that conditioned air is forced through the product rather than the product just being stored in a temperature-controlled room. The system passes air through each box or series of boxes before returning to the evaporator. Therefore, any “air-stacking” or “cross-stacking” of boxes is not necessary, and the result is less handling of the fruit and improved product quality. For non-pressurized rooms, the boxes of bananas should be “air stacked”. That is, the boxes should be arranged in an offset pattern to allow the air to circulate among all the boxes since a non-pressurized room design will not pass air through boxes but around them.
Airflow throughout the produce is incredibly important as bananas are extremely sensitive to temperature. “Chilling” or “cooking” damage can occur if the fruit is subject to temperatures below 56° F or excessively high temperatures for several hours. Irregular temperature exposure can be identified by external coloring. Chilled fruit causes the peel to have a smoky, dull gray appearance (this may not show up for 18 to 24 hours after chilling occurs). Cooked bananas will result in a peel that has a brown to orange appearance, may be soft, and have a short shelf life.