[Market-farming] limitations of AC coolers

Bill Bradshaw billbradshaw at hughes.net
Wed Jan 17 09:25:17 EST 2007

John, Good Answer, Good Answer, we also use coolers to keep our produce as 
fresh as possible. Even if just over night. TexasBill

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "JOHN A HENDRICKSON" <jhendric at wisc.edu>
To: "Market Farming" <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 6:52 AM
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] limitations of AC coolers

>I think coolers are a must for most fresh market produce farms...more 
>important ultimately than any other piece of equipment on the farm.  I've 
>seen "fresh picked" produce from CSA farms and at farmers markets that is 
>LESS fresh than supermarket produce because of inadequate post harvest 
>handling and lack of a cooler.  Vegetables start to die the moment they are 
>harvested.  Unless field heat is removed and the dying process is slowed, 
>the produce quickly looses quality and nutrients.  None of the market 
>growers I know use coolers as an excuse to sell old produce, they use them 
>to cool and hold produce overnight or for a couple days so that it can 
>withstand the rigors of sitting at a CSA drop site or at a sunny, windy 
>farmers market.  Such produce is still 7-14 days newer and fresher than the 
>stuff at a supermarket.  My two cents...
> -John
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Robert Schuler <sunnfarm at verizon.net>
> Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 7:07 pm
> Subject: Re: [Market-farming] limitations of AC coolers
> To: Market Farming <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
>> Paul, you are right, ac cannot remove field heat and true agricultural
>> grade cooling requires removing field heat right into the core of the
>> produce not just the surface. If you put a melon with a core temp of
>> 70 degrees in a ac cool room the surface will feel cold but the the
>> inside of the melon will still be 70 degrees for days after. At my
>> Coop will use vacuum cooling that sucks the field heat out of the
>> produce right to the core then the produce can be held in a cool room.
>> Unfortunately vacuum coolers are a bit costly for a small farm.
>> On my farm I do not use any cooling. I tell customers that coolers are
>> just an excuse to sell old produce. If you want old cooled produce you
>> can go to the supermarket. People who buy off the farm expect produce
>> to be fresh picked not days old... Bob.
>> Sunny Meadow Farm
>> Bridgeton, NJ.
>> From: Paul Bucciaglia <pbucciaglia at yahoo.com>
>> Date: 2007/01/16 Tue PM 12:12:58 CST
>> To: market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org
>> Subject: [Market-farming] limitations of AC coolers
>>    I don't mean to be a wet rag (no pun intended), but I found Air
>> conditioned coolers to be limited in their usefulness.</div>
>> <div> </div>  <div>They are fine for crops that are best stored
>> between 55F and 65F.  I have a cooler made from panels ripped from a
>> liquor store--we cut a hole in the back, mounted an old window AC, and
>> wa-laa you have a good cooler for crops that like it cool and dry:
>> tomatos, melons, and eggplant.  We also store unwashed spuds (short
>> term) in there.</div>  <div> </div>  <div>However, this is not a good
>> cooler for greens, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, etc.  I find these
>> crops store best from 34 to 38F, and trying get a large mass of warm
>> (even if they are hydrocooled), wet produce down to these temps, and
>> held there, is a tall order for an AC.  And I'm not even metnioning
>> the ice-up problems, even though others have found ways to defrost
>> their frozen-up ACs.  Actually, that fact alone should be a warning
>> buzzer about this whole idea!     You can find very reasonable coolers
>> from restarants or grocery stores that are selling out.  A few years
>> ago we put up a 12X18' cooler on the concrete floor in our barn.  The
>> used panels and condenser cost $1000 pulled from a local grocery store
>> (with about 60 ft. of nice roller track thrown in), and a new
>> compressor plus professional wiring ran about 3 grand as I recall.  I
>> should count labor when putting it up, so it was all under 5 grand.
>> When you consider that this should last (at least!) 10 years, that
>> means refrigertation capital/maintenance costs for my crops run less
>> than $550  a year, which is less than 0.5% of my annual gross income
>> from produce sales.   Lots of bang for the buck there, IMOP.   Because
>> good post harvest handling is so crucial to quality produce, I
>> consider this cooler an essential investment at a very small annual
>> cost.       Paul  Fort Hill Farm
>> Paul Bucciaglia
>> Fort Hill Farm
>> Organic Vegetables, Herbs, and Flowers
>> 18 Fort Hill Rd.
>> New Milford CT 06776
>> (860) 350-3158
>> www.forthillfarm.com
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