Study finds quality of produce undiminished by lower curing temperatures

Curing onions at a temperature lower than the traditional 28 degsC does not have a detrimental affect on the product's storage life or quality.

These are the findings of an ongoing Defra HortLink project investigating storage practice led by Dr Leon Terry, head of food quality and environment at Cranfield University.

Terry told delegates at last month's Onion & Carrot Conference in Peterborough that present day curing methods may be less applicable to modern cultivars.

He said this is because the research that formed the basis of the procedure for heating onions at 28 degsC for three to six weeks was carried out in the 1970s.

Terry said: "In light of rising energy costs, a reduction in gas and electricity use during curing and storage of onions would be desirable.

"A reduction in temperature and duration of the curing period could help growers to reduce their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions."

Tests showed that onions cured at the lower temperatures of 20 degsC and 24 degsC still produced onion bulbs of a satisfactory quality.

In red onions, tests also showed that curing at 28 degsC actually resulted in a duller appearance than curing at 20 degsC despite widespread belief that lower curing temperatures can negatively impact appearance.


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