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CO2 Important for Ripening Fresh Produce

Posted by Mark Lemon on

Did you ever wonder how produce at the grocery store is always at the peak of its ripeness on the shelf? Chances are, carbon dioxide was involved.

Some produce like apples have their ripeness retarded by storing them in CO2. Large storage containers are lined with heavy bags and filled with young apples. The bags are sealed, then pumped full of CO2 gas. Stored in this manner, some produce can remain in an unripened state for weeks after picking.

A leak in a storage bag can represent hundreds of pounds of produce lost. To test for leaks, shippers use our portable 100% CO2 Sample Draw meter. A self-sealing port on the bag is used to extract the gas inside, and can be used to “top up” the CO2 inside.

Instead of storing produce in CO2, some produce like bananas, tomatoes, and avocadoes are ripened just before they are ready to sell by bathing them in ethylene gas to “jump start” the ripening process. Ethylene generators pump the gas into rooms filled with produce.

portable co2 meterUnfortunately, as fruit ripens, it gives off CO2, which slows the ripening process. Therefore, shippers must ventilate ripening rooms when adding ethylene to minimize ripening times. By using our handheld pSense CO2 meter, workers can verify that CO2 levels stay beneath 0.5% (5,000ppm) both to maximize ripening and to meet OSHA regulations.

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