The discovery was their solution to the 15,000 metric tons (MT) – 10% of the country’s annual yield – discarded each year due to fruit appearance, size or falling to the ground before ripening.
The discarded apples have traditionally been sold to the juice industry for a fraction of their value or even just thrown away, leading to some NIS 25 million (US$7 million) in lost income each year.
Dr. Ofir Benjamin and Prof. Raffi Stern, from Tel Chai Academic College and the Galilee Development Authority respectively, created a powder that is first grated and then freeze-dried with the addition of a very small amount of milk powder to prevent crystallization.
With 600mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, the powder is intended as a healthy alternative to sugar to sweeten soft drinks and as a natural nutritional supplement.
Researchers say it also has a high percentage of antioxidants and nutritional fiber, making it a ‘superfood’.
“We began our research last September with the aim of looking at what we could do with the enormous quantities of apples that the industry discards every year,” Benjamin told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).
According to Binjamin, the powder has many advantages such as no preservatives, no food coloring, and 100 percent natural ingredients, but more importantly, he says, it is a major breakthrough for farmers.
“Now apple growers will be able to take advantage of fruit that otherwise would have gone to waste,” he was quoted as saying.