Nova Scotia Apples - Handling Apples
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Apple on Pillow

Handling N.S. Apples

Handle with care

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Don't be the weak link in the chain to apple sales success. Apples are handled with care while still on the tree. Growers thin apples, often by hand, to increase size and reduce the risk of limb-rub and other friction damage.

Apples are then handpicked and placed in picking baskets, which are carefully emptied into bins. Handpicking and careful transport decreases bruising and mechanical damage of apples.

Types of apple bruising and damage that may occur in the chain from grower to consumer:

Impact Bruising:  Occurs when apples are dropped on a hard surface. The injury is not immediately apparent, but it may show later. Since apples have tender skin and flesh, bruising can be a serious problem. McIntosh are the most sensitive to bruise damage.

Compression Bruising:  Results when cases are stacked too high or when packages are overfilled. Apples in cardboard cases should not be stacked more than five high. Plastic master cartons can be stacked as high as practicable as long as they are stacked squarely so no corner drops down into the apples below.

Vibration Damage:  Can occur when packages are underfilled, but it is more likely to happen during long road hauls in trucks with poor suspensions. It is preferable to transport apples in trucks that have an air-ride suspension system designed to protect produce in transit.

Cuts/Abrasions:  May heal quickly under appropriate conditions, but they allow the entry of decay microorganisms and increase moisture loss. Mature or ripe apples have less ability to heal themselves and will have unsightly marks.

Careful Handling Reduces Losses in the Produce Department!

When apples (or other produce) are damaged, ripening is hastened and shelf life shortened due to increased moisture loss, respiration, and ethylene production. Not long after peak ripeness, the fruit begins to develop off-flavours as cells die. Dying tissues are more susceptible to decay. This is the end of the line for fruit in a produce display. It is obvious to the consumer that the fruit is past its prime! Oops! A lost sale.

Fresh, undamaged fruit in a display increases sales. To keep the display fresh looking, check it regularly and remove damaged and unappetizing apples. If a bag has one or two bad apples in it, open the bag and remove them. Sell the remainder of the bag singly from a bowl in the Deli, or add them to your bulk display. Remember: a poly bag offers no protection to the apples, so be gentle when checking them.

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