|By pinoyfarmer | March 13, 2011|
Tomatoes can be kept field-fresh for three weeks without using cold storage, according to the researchers from the Laguna-based Philippine Horticulture Training and Research Center (PHTRC).
One economical alternative is to use the Evaporative Cooling and Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) Technology which prolongs the storage life of fresh tomatoes under ordinary condition using locally available materials.
Developed by the team of Gloria Masilungan, Dr. Edralina Serrano and Kevin Yap, Evaporative Cooling and MAP Technology utilizes coconut coir dust and polyethylene (PE) plastic packaging and a suitable crate or container for storing tomatoes.
Masilungan said that the technology can be easily adopted by vegetable farmers at the village level production especially during periods when the price of tomatoes is low due to abundant supply, giving them up to three more weeks to store their produce while waiting for higher selling price.
“It is important, however, that the tomatoes to be stored must be green and firm to maximize the benefits of this technology,” says Masilungan. Otherwise, storage period will be shorter than what is expected. She also emphasized that the fruits must be free from injury and mechanical damage.
The technique is to wash the tomatoes first in water with chlorox (1 tablespoon of chlorox for every 1 liter of water) to disinfect the fruits from pathogenic microorganisms. The tomatoes are then dried and packed in PE bags with 2 pinpricks per kilogram of tomatoes. Moisten the coir dust with chlorox-mixed water and line the base of the container with this. Place the packed tomatoes in the middle and cover with moist coir dust. The researchers recommend a kilo of coir dust per kilo of tomatoes.
How does this technology work for tomato? PHTRC said that PE bag modifies the tomato surrounding by decreasing oxygen and increasing carbon dioxide. These result in the delay in ripening and discoloration of the peel, reduction in weight loss and moisture loss, and reduction in injuries from chilling. The cooling effect of moist coir dust, on one hand, also delays ripening of tomato.
Evaporative Cooling and MAP Technology was one of the technologies featured by PHTRC at the recent Agrilink trade show held at the World Trade Center Metro Manila in Pasay City. Others included Controlled Atmosphere Storage Protocol for Mango, Low Temperature Requirement of Tropical Fruits and Vegetables, Coco Coir as Storage Medium to Extend Shelflife and Enhance Quality of Tomato, MAP for Horticultural Perishables, Desiccants for Seed Storage, and many more.
Written by Melpha Abello
Source: Manila Bulletin