Thursday, August 12, 2010

Beating the heat!

It feels like a real summer here in southern Ontario - with high temperatures, high humidity and lots of hot sunshine!
By afternoon on most days everything is wilting - plants, animals and people!
We are often asked, "How can you stand this heat?"
One answer we give is ... the cold storage.

Like all fruit farms, Thiessen Farms has a cold storage. It's purpose is to cool down the fruit & vegetables quickly after picking so they last longer and stay fresher - like these nectarines that were picked today.

Fruit that ripens and is harvested in this extreme summer heat is very warm. Once in the basket it actually becomes warmer and begins to break down quite rapidly. Getting the heat out of the fruit as soon as possible is crucial for keeping it's quality. (About the only thing we do not refrigerate is our tomatoes. Tomatoes should never be stored below 10 C, and our cold storage is kept just above freezing. )

My father built the cold storage himself around 1962. It was a concrete block addition to our barn, about 24 x 22'. Through the years we've changed the cooling equipment but the structure remains. In the early 1980's when the original barn needed replacing, we kept the cold storage and built the new barn around it. We also added a 2nd cold storage quite a bit larger than the original. So we actually have 2 cold storages. Now that we have downsized the farm, we usually only run the smaller one, but it's nice to have the extra room and turn it on when necessary.

Here is what the 2 cold storages look like from inside the barn.

So how does the cold storage help us beat the heat?

It's a great place to hang out at lunchtime or at breaks.
There's always a big  jug with very cold water for drinking.

In fact, we use any excuse to dash in for a moment and chill - but just for a minute. It gets real cold in there real fast. And then it's back out to the farm and the heat!

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