Following harvest, it is essential to store vegetables in ideal conditions to guarantee that the whole season’s hard work has paid off. This article discusses the optimum storage conditions for tomato, pepper, cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe and sweet corn.
The best storage conditions for tomatoes are determined by their maturity state at the time of harvest. If tomatoes are selected when they are mature green, keep them at 66 to 70°F with 90 to 95% RH to promote consistent ripening. Temperatures exceeding 81°F diminish the intensity of the red hue and shorten the shelf life of the fruit. Green tomatoes are susceptible to cold. Fruit may suffer chilling harm if the temperature falls below 55°F. Red tomatoes are safe to keep at 50°F; however, taste and fragrance may be compromised when stored at 55°F.
Peppers store best between 45 to 55°F and 90 to 95% relative humidity. Temperatures below 45°F may result in chilling damage. Colorful peppers are less cold sensitive than green peppers in general. Storage temperatures over 55°F hasten ripening and should be avoided with green peppers. If partly colored fruit is collected, keep them at 68 to 77°F with RH >95% to color peppers. Peppers are ethylene sensitive. Store peppers away from ethylene-producing fruits like ripening tomatoes and cantaloupes.
Cucumber should be stored between 50 to 54°F with a relative humidity of more than 95%. Cucumbers are chilling sensitive, chilling injury can develop if fruit is stored below 50°F for more than 2 or 3 days. Temperatures over 59°F may cause fast fruit browning and quality loss. Cucumbers cultivated in greenhouses with thin skins are very susceptible to water loss. If they are not shrink-wrapped, storing them in sealed bags can help ensure above 95% RH and prevent fruit water loss. Cucumbers are very susceptible to ethylene, which causes yellowing and fruit deterioration. Store cucumbers apart from ethylene-producing fruits such as ripening tomatoes and cantaloupes.
But the best storage temperature for watermelons is 50 to 59°F with a relative humidity of 90%. Many watermelons are delivered on trucks that are not refrigerated. Watermelons can develop chilling injury when stored below 50°F for more than a few days. The fruit is particularly ethylene sensitive. Exogenous ethylene at low levels may induce fruit softening, loss of flesh color, and over-ripeness.
Cantaloupe should be cooled right after harvest to delay ripening and retain sugar content. The ideal storage temperature is 36 to 45°F with a relative humidity of 95%. Full-slip melons are not chilling sensitive, they may be stored for 5 to 14 days at 32 to 36°F. When temperatures reach 36°F, less developed melons may suffer from chilling harm.
Sweet corn loses sweetness quickly if it is not chilled immediately after harvest. More than half of the sugar in sweet corn may be turned to starch in a single day if temperatures stay around 85°F. Sweet corn should be chilled promptly after harvest and kept at temperatures as near to 32°F as feasible to retain quality. Since it is critical to cool sweetcorn to a lower temperature than many vegetables, whenever possible, harvest sweet corn early in the morning when the pulp temperature is the lowest during the day. Sweet corn is not cold sensitive, and exogenous ethylene exposure is usually not a concern.