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Keep Fruits and Vegetables Cold, But Not Too Cold

This is Barbara Klein with the VOA Special English Development Report.

Cold storage can keep foods in good condition for months after the growing season. But foods can be damaged if they are kept too cold. So this week we offer some advice about cold storage. It comes from Practical Action, an anti-poverty group in Britain. Practical Action is the new name for the Intermediate Technology Development Group.

The experts say the best way is to prepare foods for storage while still in the field. For best results, harvest fruits and vegetables at the correct harvesting time. And try not to damage them. Use a sharp knife.

Place the harvested items on a clean surface or directly into storage containers. Do not place them on the ground. Dirt can lead to bugs or fungus growth in cold storage.

Use clean water to remove dirt, and keep the water clean. But it is usually better not to remove outer leaves from fruits and vegetables before storage. Without the leaves, food can become dry.

Fruits and vegetables must be cool from field heat before they are put into storage. If they are placed in cool water, however, it can spread fungus throughout the food. A better idea is to harvest foods either early or late in the day, then leave them to cool naturally.

The experts at Practical Action say all fruits and vegetables have a "critical temperature" for storage. Damage may happen if they get any colder. With potatoes, for example, the cell structure can break down.

Some fruits and vegetables must be stored at zero to four degrees Celsius. Others need four to eight degrees. And still others must be stored above eight degrees.

Wet the fruits and vegetables so they do not become too dry during storage. The best time to do this is before storage. Cover the items in plastic once they reach the correct storage temperature. Most fruits and vegetables need the relative humidity in storage to be kept between eighty-five and ninety-five percent.

Finally, airflow must not be restricted. Leave space between the food containers and the walls of the storage area. Keep the space clean and, lastly, try not to open the doors too often.

Internet users can get more information about cold storage at Again, the address is We will have a link at

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss. I'm Barbara Klein.

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