Ways to keep cut fruit fresh longer

24 Aug 2015 NUS food scientists have developed edible coating to extend the shelf-life of fresh-cut honeydew melon.

Fresh-cut fruits are increasingly demanded by consumers due to convenience. However, they have much shorter shelf-life compared to the whole counterpart and are highly perishable due to the exposure of inner flesh to the environment. Honeydew melon is a favourable fruit to consumers. When the fresh-cut honeydew melon deteriorates to a certain extent, significant texture breakdown and colour changes occur which lead to appearance changes followed by the end of shelf-life. An edible coating for deterring the deterioration of fresh-cut fruits with honeydew melon as a representative was developed and the underlying mechanism of the coating's effects was elucidated.

A team led by Prof YANG Hongshun from the Food Science & Technology Programme in the Department of Chemistry, NUS has provided a practical solution for extending the shelf-life of fresh-cut honeydew melon and illustrates the fundamental reasons of shelf life extension. The research can be extended to other fresh-cut fruits including papayas, pears, apples etc. The detailed coating recipe for each fruit can be modified based on the stabilising mechanism for the fruit cell wall structures and components.

They recently developed a portable sanitising unit that can generate neutral electrolysed water, an environmentally-friendly sanitising solution, which can be applied to treat fresh-cut fruits before edible coating to further improve the microbial safety. A Junior College student working on the sanitising equipment was awarded a First Prize at ASEAN Student Science Project Competition in July 2015.

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Effects of coating on the quality of fresh-cut honeydew melon (a) diagram of coating treatments; (b) effects of various coatings on the firmness of the fruit; (c) atomic force microscopy to show the effects of coating on cell wall pectin molecules. [Image credit: Yang Hongshun]

 

Reference

Chong JX, Lai S, Yang H. “Chitosan combined with calcium chloride impacts fresh-cut honeydew melon by stabilising nanostructures of sodium-carbonate-soluble pectin”. Food Control, 53 (2015) 195.