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Friday, August 5, 2011

#18 - Apple Storage and Oxygen / Carbon Dioxide Analysis

I read a while back that there were just over 7,000 varieties of apples grown in the United States between the years 1804 and 1905. Since then, more than 6,000 of these have become extinct. That is an 85% decline in apple diversity. Other types of fruits and vegetables have had similar or even worse declines.

Why the astonishing reduction in diversity? It probably has something to do with the forces exerted by the processes of marketing and production. Perhaps the marketing concept of the ‘perfect’ shiny red apple has reduced people’s concept of what an acceptable apple is. This has reduced the demand for variety and has driven production towards singularity. Increased volume-focused production no doubt has little time for maximizing variety anyway. No doubt there are other factors involved also. The net result is an overall reduction in biodiversity.

Reduction in diversity in any species is generally a bad thing. The potential over-all destructiveness of any pathologies or parasites will be greater if the genetic diversity in a pool is low. It is the same basic idea as the financial flaw of having all one’s “eggs in a single basket”. Many countries have responded to this situation by setting up seed banks and allowing genetic engineering and modification. People seem to have mixed feelings about some of these approaches. The potential for uncertain outcomes and corporate hostage-taking seems high. Perhaps there will be patents on the apple genetics of the future.

My favorite variety of apple is generally known as Crispin / Mutsu originally from Japan. This type of apple is a nice balance of contrasts. It has a medium green skin with a bright white interior. The flesh is firm, yet also very juicy. The flavor is an uncluttered combination of tart and sweet.


Yes, I have a favorite, but I would love to try the other 7,000 varieties that were once available. That’s a different apple every day for the next 19 years!

Many food products, including apples, are stored in a controlled atmosphere (C/A) for maximum stability & longevity. Oxygen, carbon dioxide, and humidity levels are controlled to produce an atmosphere that slows the fruit ripening process. At Nova, we are interested in this aspect of food storage because we make gas analyzers that are used for C/A applications.

The Model 309 Portable CO2 & O2 Analyzer is a rugged, fast-responding, and accurate instrument for conveniently monitoring the atmosphere in a fruit storage C/A room.

  • It utilizes a single cell infrared detector for CO2, and a customer-replaceable electrochemical sensor for O2.
  • Neither sensor is affected by water vapor or other gas vapors in the sample gas.
  • The outputs of these detectors are displayed on the front panel display meters and are available as optional 0-1 VDC or 4-20 mA recorder outputs. The displays are back-lit to allow for use in dark areas.
  • CO2 is not calculated in the Nova Analyzer as may be the case with some other brands. There is a dedicated NDIR (infra red) CO2 detector built into the Model 309 analyzer.
  • The analyzer also includes a high capacity pump and a flow control valve to ensure a flow of 1 LPM through the sensors.
  • Model 309 in our on-line catalog...check it out

Harvest season will be coming soon. Now might be the time to inquire about an instrument to monitor your controlled atmosphere.

Give Mike or Dave at Nova a call, or send us an e-mail.
sales at nova-gas dot com
websales at nova-gas dot com

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