The cold cauterization of the prickly pear proved to be an extremely efficient system to prolong the post-harvesting conservation. The fruit has been cauterized with dry ice at different pressures through robotic pincers. “The results showed that the criocauterized prickly pear can last up to 4 months – according to the researchers of the Università Autonoma of Chapingo (Mexico). Over 80% of the fruits were marketable 90 days after the criocauterization.
The prickly pear is a highly perishable fruit – it starts to deteriorate after several days at room temperature. After two weeks, 70% of the fruit shows signs of deterioration. Mexican researchers have developed a criocatuerization process that uses pneumatic pincers which presses the fruit against a dry ice wall within a thermally isolated chamber.
For the study, 1.800 fruits per day were treated – taking into consideration the different harvesting environmental conditions (sun, clouds and rain).
The researchers explained, “The best criocauterization treatment for prickly pears was of 150 kPa for 15 seconds. Because of this, it was possible to have up to 86% of marketable fruit after 90 days of conservation. The cauterization modified the heat transfer properties of the treated tissue between 5 and 10 seconds. After 3 hours, a protective film is already well-formed. Criocauterization proved to be a good alternative to extend the prickly pear shelf life. However, to get the best performance, criocauterization should be applied only on fruit harvested under dry condition.
Source: Hahn-Schlam Federico, Valle-Guadarrama Salvador, Jenkins Tim, 'Robotic cactus pear cryocauterization increases storage life.
'2019, Postharvest Biology and Technology Vol. 147, pag. 132-138.