Aloe for Fresh Fruit

The Science Teacher, December 2005 | Go to article overview

Aloe for Fresh Fruit


Aloe vera gel is best known for its therapeutic effect on burned or irritated skin, but in the future we could be eating the gel as a healthful additive to fruits and veggies. Researchers in Spain say they have developed a gel from the tropical plant that can be used as an edible coating to prolong the quality and safety of fresh produce. The gel, which does not appear to affect food taste or appearance, shows promise as a safe, natural, and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional synthetic preservatives that are currently applied to produce after harvesting, the researchers say.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Although a number of edible coatings have been developed to preserve food freshness, the new coating is believed to be the first to use Aloe, according to study leader Daniel Valero of the University of Miguel Hernandez in Alicante, Spain. The study appears in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Valero and his associates dipped a group of common table grapes into Aloe gel and stored them for five weeks under low temperature while exposing a group of untreated table grapes to the same conditions. The untreated grapes appeared to deteriorate rapidly within about 7 days, whereas the gel-coated grapes were well preserved for up to 35 days under the same experimental conditions. …

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