A Chilean researcher has developed a compound that greatly increases the amount of time it takes for fruit such as avocados to decay once peeled or cut.
She says the liquid has the potential to significantly change the way people consume fruit, allow consumers to leave their fruit refrigerated for a month without it decaying.
Laura Almendares, an academic at the Food Technology department of the University of Santiago in Chile, led a project that had aimed to boost the shelf life of the prickly pear, also known as opuntia or tuna.
But ultimately the project resulted in a product was also found to slow decay of avocados, apples, strawberries, and blueberries.
The work was initially focused on the prickly pear due to its short shelf life.
“This was an FIA [Foundation for Agrarian Innovation] project that was won for prickly pears, and due to its success, I won a technological tour to the U.S.,” she said
She then secured more funding to expand further the project, which led a liquid that can increase the time it takes fruit to decay by 30 to 40 days.
For avocados the liquid is applied by spraying the fruit once it is cut open, thus avoiding the oxidation process.
As well as slowing the delaying process of fruit that has been cut open, the researchers later discovered that the liquid could be used to maintain the quality of fruits like blueberries during transportation.
Almendares explained this was an important aspect product, as it could provide huge benefits to exporters of the highly perishable fruit. A Chilean blueberry exporter is due to trial the product in November.
“[For blueberries], the liquid lowers the microbial load, not affecting the bloom, which is basically the coating that the blueberry has,” she said, adding that the compound is tasteless and colorless.
“This is an edible compound, approved by the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] and in the trials that we did, the person doesn’t realize that it’s there.”