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Carambola, Averrhoa carambola / Oxalidaceae
Postharvest Atmosphere Management
Carambola is well-preserved for 3 to 6 weeks at temperatures between 5 and 7.5ºC. They can be transported by boat.

Cooling is the technique with maximum effectiveness in the storage of carambolas. The conditions recommended for storage are between 5 and 7.5 ºC and 90-95% of relative moisture.

The green colour tends to disappear, the fruit ripens when it is subject to ethylene and the taste and acidity improves. These changes may be seen accelerated with an exposure to ethylene of 100 ppm for 24 hours. However, similar procedures, if severe, may increase the fruit rotting.

For further information it is recommended to consult the Web page of the University of Davis ( http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu )
Distribution
The same environmental conditions for storage (temperature 5-7.5ºC and 90-95% of relative moisture), are the suitable for the transport and distribution stages.

The quality problems are evident in the fruit after sea transport, when the period of time between the harvest and the consumption is too long.
Postharvest Problems
After the harvesting some problems caused by chilling injuries may arise; these would bring along the necrosis of the angles, some other alterations are physical damages, blight, damages caused by heating and pathogens.

Chilling injuries
The chilling injuries symptoms are depressions on the surface of the fruit; some are small, considering those which do not exceed 1 mm, the others are deep and dark or long, 1 to 2 mm. These areas are of a brown colour. These symptoms have been observed in some cultivars of carambola after two weeks at 0ºC or 6 weeks at 5ºC. The most usual damages are clearly defined areas of a greyish colour and somewhat depressed in the skin, a darkening in the pulp, abnormal maturation, greater sensitivity to infections, a faster deterioration, a dull colour and little taste, as well as some spots in the skin.

Necrosis of the angles
The angles of the fruit are very sensitive to any damage caused by their delicate position. This causes undesired brown necrotic tissues in the fruit.

Physical damages
The dark and broken areas are prone to suffer from abrasions and damages. The cracks increase with the fruit’s loss of water. The manual care during the harvesting and subsequent storage and transport is indispensable in order to reduce these physical damages to the maximum.

Blight
The symptoms are visible when the carambolas loose around 5% of their weight due to hydric stress.

Damages caused by heating
Dark skin and softening of the flesh may occur in carambolas which have been subject to heat treatments (over 46ºC for 35 to 55 minutes). A better alternative would be irradiation. The application of heat and irradiation is carried out in order to treat insects.

Damages caused by pathogens
Many damages occurring during the storage of carambola would be caused by Alternaria alternata (specially in frozen fruit), Cladosporium cladosporioides or Botryodiplodia theobromae. These damages generally occur during the fruit storage and could diminish with a careful handling during the harvest, storage and transport.
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