Berry efficient chilling
The storage and transport of berries has come a long way since they were transported by an iced horse cart in 1843. Today, growers in the Pajaro Valley from the Berry Bowl label are breaking in a brand new USD 2 million state-of-the-art flash cooler. The Modular Automated Cooling System (MAC) is approximately 29 metres in length and uses two computers and a variety of other variations on the former model to halve cooling time, down to 1 hour. Storing fruit in a cold warehouse does not adequately remove the heat absorbed in the fields and in order to preserve freshness, cold air must be actively forced through the flats as soon as possible following picking. The old method involved stacked towers of berries which were forklifted against 6-foot-tall air intake shafts feeding a room's massive refrigerator coils. The air, chilled to around 1°C, warms slightly as it is pulled through the stacks, and thereby the baskets on the exposed front cool the most. With the new system, a conveyor belt rolls the berries through a series of compact "rooms", where they get flash blasted with the alternating air flows. By reversing the flow four times the berries are cooled quickly and evenly every time.