The History of Cooling Produce
Ice Cooling, old school cool
There are several methods for cooling fresh fruits and vegetables. Among them, one of the oldest is ice cooling. This ancient method involves an elderly woman with a giant basket balanced on her head. She would hike up the mountain thousands of feet to find the perfect ice. Then she would hack chunks of ice off and put them into her basket. Next, she runs down the hill, basket on head, all the way to the valley. Hopefully there was enough ice left to cool the harvested fruits and vegetables. Finally, the crop was placed in the ice, which warmed it until melting.
Ice cooling has come a long way since then, thankfully. The latest ice cooling technology features men in suits designed to keep them warm in sub-freezing temperatures. It also has the added bonus of making them look like the Michelin man. They drive small tractors and scoop up the ice to drop it into a screw conveyor where it conveys to the product. They make ice all day long and it doesn’t matter if it’s cold at the top of a mountain somewhere or not. Also, no elderly women risk are risking ankle injuries.
Forced-air cooling has made leaps and bounds since its original incarnation. Prior to the tarped tunnel, one or more large men would each place a small piece of ice or frozen meat in their mouths. Next, they would breathe out the cold air using the “ooooo” type of blowing, not the “ahhhh” type of blowing that makes things warm and fogs up windows. Good lungs were important to maximize the amount of cold ice breath that would pass over the warm harvest. With the discovery of the reed and bamboo chutes, cold breath could be focused enough to lower the temperature of a strawberry by up to a degree an hour. This technique was almost better than natural convection.
Nowadays you have smart precooling systems that automate the whole force-air cooling process. You also have simple precoolers with no automation, like the Jet Precooler. Jet Precoolers, like Banana Jeff, offer a viable product but come with baggage that is undesirable for the long-term.
What is there to say about vacuum cooling? It sucks. I’m sorry, someone had to say it.
By the time the elephant was invented, large men were tired of blowing cold air over strawberries. They were smarter now, so they enlisted the help of
Banana Je.. elephants. Elephants would be manufactured near a river with some glacial runoff. The elephant would be positioned in a way that would put its trunk into the water stream. The elephant would be made to pull water into its sinus cavity (several hundred gallons at a time) and then blow the cool water over the surface of the harvested produce. This was found to be an effective method for precooling fruits and vegetables before the garden hose came along.