[Market-farming] Coolbot

Harriet Allen hattie_allen at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 15 10:30:48 EDT 2011


I love the simple and direct application of technology used for the coolbot and its usefulness for many different situations.  The instructions on how to use this device are clearly laid out and if you follow them you can cool below 40 degrees easily.  For fresh vegetables, I have found a setting of 45 to 50 has worked best for post-harvest storage of peppers, eggplant, and summer squash and green beans.  None of these items want to be too cold and they are the bulky items I need the most room for, so the coolbot in a fairly-well insulated shed with an air conditioner that really should be larger has still worked well.  If I had another room or shed, I would insulate it well, get the appropriate sized air conditioner and cool my lettuce, etc. as close to 32 degrees as possible.  Instead, I used a sliding door BeverageAir refrigeration unit I was lucky enough to get used at a good price, but not nearly as cheap as the coolbot setup.  The BeverageAir
 takes a lot of electricity, but I harvest my lettuce, arugula, etc. closer to the time I will need it and leave the unit off for several days each week to save electricity.
There was a great article on ATTRA about postharvest handling of fruits and vegetables that had a concise chart for optimum temperatures for vegetable and fruit storage.  It is no longer on the ATTRA site, but I had printed it out and taped it to my refrigerator and I do refer to it constantly.  Still, does anyone know if there is such a list out there?
Since I am a small operation, it really helps me out to pick my eggplant, green beans, etc. earlier in the week and store them appropriately in the coolbot shed.  The produce I bring to market often looks better--I also do everything I can to keep it cool at market--and will last longer than produce picked by many farmers the day before the market, but not held at appropriate temperatures.  It is hot here in summer and nights are often above 70 degrees.  I feel that post-harvest care is the single most important thing to bringing a good product to market and that includes harvesting vegetables at the right time of day, getting the field heat out of them as quickly as I can and holding them at an appropriate temperature. 
If I am picking haricot verts in the middle of a hot afternoon, I will often bring a couple of coolers along with me so that the two or three hours I am in the field, those green beans can at least begin to cool some and not be sitting in the shade, cooking at the 90 to 100 degree temperature I picked them at!

Hattie's Garden
Lewes, DE (Zone 7a? 7b?)  
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