Ethylene removal in Pears

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Courtesy of Bioconservacion SA

The Conference pear has a greenish skin with brown marks and a consistent greenish-white pulp. It is a widely grown and consumed variety in Europe.

It can be stored for up to 9 months in controlled atmosphere conditions in refrigeration chambers, a period in which the effect of ethylene on the fruit can lead to a major loss of quality. Ethylene accelerates the ripening and senescence of the pears.

The CTIFL (Centre Technique Interprofessionnel des Fruits et Légumes - G. Monteils & P. Westercamp, 2006, Montauban, France), an independent centre and a benchmark in the post-harvest sector, undertook a study with the aim of verifying the effectiveness of ethylene elimination in conference pear conservation chambers.

The study assessed granular potassium permanganate (Bi-On) as a method for eliminating ethylene.
The test conditions were: T=0ºC; 3% O2, 1.5% O2 for 5 months, plus 3 weeks in normal cold conditions. Following the test period, the results demonstrated the benefits of eliminating ethylene from the air in the conference pear conservation chambers:

  • A clearly superior firmness on leaving the cold chamber and during the following days.
  • Slower yellowing of the fruit
  • Almost complete absence of excessive ripening after 8 days at environmental temperature (compared to 25% of the control fruit on removal from the cold chamber)
  • Almost complete absence of putrefaction (half of the fruit in the control group was rotten after 8 days at environmental temperature)
  • Reduction in the shrivelling of the fruit at environmental temperature.

Bioconservacion’s solution for eliminating ethylene from the air is based on granules with permanganate (Bi-On) available in different formats: sachets, filters and/or Ethylclean machines. One or other of these formats is recommendable depending on the application conditions.

We have recently had a positive experience with conference pear conservation using the Ethylclean system that provides further confirmation of the benefits of eliminating ethylene from the air.

The Dutch firm Wellner Fruit b.v (www.wellnerfruit.nl), which specialises in the classification and packaging of hard fruit, has used the Ethylclean system for conference pear conservation.

On this occasion 150 tons of conference pears were stored in two 530 m3 refrigeration chambers in ULO conditions in parallel and in the same conditions. In one chamber the air was filtered with an Ethylclean system to remove the ethylene and in the other no air filtration system was used.

The information provided by Wellner Fruit b.v corroborates the benefits of eliminating ethylene from the air, which were evident in the quality of the conference pears when they were removed from the cold chamber.

The fruit stored using the Bi-On ethylene elimination system:

  • Was firmer (6.3 vs 5.8 kg)
  • Had a higher sugar content (12.4 vs 13% ºB)

Wellner Fruit b.v also reported that the pears conserved with the Ethylclean system had a fresher, greener appearance.

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