Livnat Goldenberg, a new addition to the Agrostudies team is teaching the very popular post-harvest course, during which the students acquire crucial information on sorting, classification and handling of harvest produce after it has been picked!
Currently she is doing her post-doctoral degree in plant science, after studying at both the Hebrew University and the Volkan Institute. She has helped make this course interactive and interesting thanks to a vast knowledge in the field alongside the enthusiasm she finds matched in the Agrostudies students.
During the course, the students learn about caring for the produce. They learn about the various temperatures, humidity and conditions each and every plant or fruit needs to flourish. The students are taught to measure and control oxygen levels, carbohydrate levels, maintain sanitation, protect the produce from bacteria and pathogens and everything, including everything to ensure that only the best quality product reaches its final destination.
The course has a solid practical aspect. They study a fruit through the various ripening stages and investigate the manner in which different treatments affect this process. A tomato, for example, may take longer to ripen if it is held in refrigeration, or it may ripen quickly when stored in a plastic bag. However, that bag must have holes in it otherwise the humidity will cause the tomato to rot before it has a chance to ripen.
Different lengths and types of storage may lead to changes in the taste of the fruit and that is another important aspect being learned during the course - “taste testing”!
The students discover the rules of a professional tasting panel, which is a very serious, complex and exclusive profession. A professional tasting panel will include tasters between the ages of 25 (when the body’s hormones are balanced) to 60, and must include a balanced mix of men and women. These testers’ skills will be investigated every once in a while to see that their taste buds are still functioning accurately and objectively, while only people with a particular heightened sense of taste which is inborn can even attempt this profession to begin with.
In reality, there are only five types of tastes and hundreds of aromas that impact the way we taste and experience fruits. For example, pears and apples, have in fact the same levels of sugars and acids (the elements that impact the fruit’s actual taste), b
ut they have different aromas which makes it possible for us to distinguish between the two. There is also texture. An onion and an apple for example, have the same texture. So if you were to close your nose (diminishing your ability to taste), you may not be able to distinguish between the two, based on their textures.
To practice the material, the students received two types of mandarins and had to fill out a professional form, with their own tastes and preferences. Of course, this does not qualify them to be professional tasters, but they now have a better idea of the requirements from the fruit, the different parameters and the type of work needed to bring the fruit to the most ideal tasting result!
Livnat describes the classroom experience as being: “…really fun. They are very interested in acquiring knowledge, they show a great interest. I try to make the course accessible to all, teaching everything from the basics. This is something everyone finds themselves dealing with and they can easily understand the necessity to learn this information”.