Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Blisters, Bananas, and The Split Second Ripeness of Pears

It's been a long day today. I started work this morning at 7:15am as I had to pull the 52 pallets that were being collected today - 38 going to Burnley and 14 going to Snetterton, Norfolk - and finish preparing them. Some had to be split down, others had to be double stacked - but all needed to be shrink wrapped.

For those of you who haven't spent the majority of your lives in and around warehouses and their related intricacies, shrink wrap (aka pallet wrap or stretch wrap) is basically a bigger version of cling film. It comes on a roll - we get them in 300 metres rolls - and is used to protect the good on the pallet and prevent them from moving/falling over during transit.

I believe there are many different methods of holding the shrink wrap whilst wrapping a pallet. Whether it be the "Helsinki hand-roll" method, or the "Bolivian overhang" technique, there is no definitive right way to do it. There are several wrong ways to do it, however. Personally I choose to use the index finger method. Basically I hold the roll of shrink wrap by putting each index finger into each end of the cardboard core. This allows the roll to spin freely as I wrap the pallet. I find this is the most comfortable way to do it - usually. Today, however due to the number of pallets requiring wrap, I developed "wrap core blisters" on the index finger of my left hand. This is caused by friction as the cardboard core spins round against my finger. Normally, I don't get blisters as I only wrap between 6 and 14 pallets at a time, but today I was forced to alter my holding method due to the pain of the blister. Foolishly, I chose to use my middle finger to hold the top of the roll steady - exposing virgin skin to the ravages of cardboard friction. Needless to say, I got a new, even more painful blister on that finger.

The bad news is that I have 10 more pallets to wrap tomorrow. I will have to wear plasters like a girl.

There is no good news.

Speaking of fruit, did you know that Bananas release a gas called Ethylene which helps them to ripen. This gas will also make any other fruit in the same bowl ripen too - which is why scientists (scientists? grocers maybe, but scientists?) say that bananas will make other fruit spoil, and should be kept separate. This is why the Banana hanger was invented.
But did you also know that the gas released by bananas affect other things than fruit? If you leave a banana in your bread bin, it will make your bread go stale faster than normal. If you put a banana in a cup of tea with a tea bag in, that cup of tea will brew (ripen) faster than if just left with the tea bag. It has even been suggested that if you leave a banana (unpeeled) next to your skin, the Ethylene gas emitted by the banana will make the area of skin closest to it age faster than areas further away. That's why monkeys and apes always have old mans hands even from a young age, because of the number of bananas they handle.

That's amazing, isn't it? And also untrue - but I reckon you could convince some people about the bread though. Give it a try tomorrow.

But Bananas do make other fruit go off quickly. All except pears it would appear. Pears seem to have their own thing going on when it comes to ripening. There is a really short period of time where a pear is actually ripe enough to eat, but before you no it, they have gone bad. You know what it is like, you buy some pears and they are rock hard. You leave them for days and they are still too hard to eat, And then one day you walk over to the fruit bowl and they there are - rotting away in front of your eyes. In the seven days between buying them and throwing them away because they have turned to mush, there must be something like a thirty second window in which they are perfect to eat, and if you don't catch them at that exact moment, they'll be ruined.

It's like unripe....unripe.....unripe......unripe......unripe.......RIPE FOR THIRTY SECONDS - Rotten.

At the other end of the spectrum are Limes - they never seem to go off. I've got some limes in my fridge, that are older than I am, and they still taste great in a bottle of Sol or San Miguel.
If you haven't tried a slice of lime in a bottle of San Miguel, I recommend it.

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