10 The NaTioNal CuliNary review • Sep Tember/oCTober 2018
le T’S TalK abouT…preconditioned/ripened fruit
leT’S TalK To deNNiS KihlSTadiuS abouT …
How did you get into
In 1987, I joined The Nolan Network as
its ripening consultant. I worked with the
California Kiwi Commission, California
Tomato Board and California Avocado
Commission to start their ripening programs.
What does a typical day
look like for you?
I go to produce markets, retail stores and
distribution centers all over the world to
look at fruits that are ripe and how are
they being handled. For a fruit to develop
good flavor, managing the storage
temperature is important. Bananas are the
benchmark. If the protocols for proper
handling of bananas are followed, other
fruit can be successfully ripened.
Why is proper produce
ripening so important?
It makes for happy customers and good
returns at every stage of the supply chain.
People think you just need to warm up
the fruit or give it a little ethylene for
ripening, but that could not be further
from the truth. Plant postharvest science
professionals have developed tools and
techniques to ensure delivery of high-quality produce. Wrapping fruit on pallets
in plastic is not a form of ripening—
you’re actually killing the fruit with heat
and CO2. This diminishes the eating
quality and shortens the shelf life.
What’s challenging about
what you do?
Understanding a fruit’s maturity and
background before it’s put into a ripening
chamber is vital. Most people do not
understand that there is a methodology to
ripening fruit for maximum quality, shelf
life and flavor. Just because someone
has been ripening fruit for more than
20 years does not mean that it has been
done correctly. I am there to build a
relationship to make employees more
valuable to the company and ensure that
the best-quality fruit is moving through
the distribution system.
What makes your job
I help companies that want to change
an old paradigm of thinking about how
fruit should be handled. And, I make
their fruit taste better. Their customers
are happier and the end users of the fruit
are getting a better product. It’s all about
customer satisfaction and growing the
usage of fruit.
How can chefs make a
Ask for preconditioned fruit. Understand
how different fruits ripen, the stage of
ripeness needed for a particular dish
and the ripening conditions necessary
to ensure delivery of the best quality.
Demand that produce is handled properly
and ripened to the level required to
execute at a high standard.
What should they share
with their customers?
Explain the correct ways to purchase and
use a ripe piece of fruit. For example, a
pineapple does not ripen after picking.
Once picked, it will never get better, so
there is nothing you can do other than
temperature control to make it taste like
it was just picked. Mangos and avocados
are picked when mature, but they ripen
off the tree once they’ve reached full
maturity. Then, the responsibility for
proper ripening is in the hands of those in
the distribution system.
What are we losing when
we accept improperly
Shorter shelf life and fruit with no
“vigor” in it. Taste and texture are
DENNIS KIHLS TADIUS IS CEO OF PRODUCE TECHNICAL SERVICES,
BEMIDJI, MINNESO TA.
huge winners with the end consumer
when fruit is ripened under the proper
conditions. When consumers get good-tasting fruit at a restaurant, they notice.
What’s your favorite fruit
Mango and avocado. Oh, the things I
could tell you about both these great
fruits. Ripe mangos have a succulent,
juicy texture and a sweet, tropical flavor.
Ripe avocados have a lush, buttery
texture and a mild, nutlike flavor. Mangos
are unique because they can be enjoyed
at all stages of ripeness, which starts at
about stage two when the fruit is crisp