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Sliced apples' flavor saver gains favor.

Kids who are still missing a few front teeth may find it hard to take a bite of a big, juicy apple. And apple slices, although easier for youngsters and adults to eat, typically turn brown and unappealing in a few hours. Apple slices packed in a child's lunch bag might not look appetizing by lunchtime, for instance.

But an edible vitamin- and mineral-based coating that USDA-ARS scientists and their corporate colleagues have developed preserves refrigerated apple slices for up to 28 days. The dip-applied coating was patented in 1999 after exhaustive tests with sliced apples and pears. It is a key to the crunchy, delicious taste of the snack-size bags of sliced apples that you can now buy at some fast-food restaurants.

The coated sliced apples are also showing up in the kitchens of school cafeterias as well as in fruit salads sold at supermarket delicatessens, or in elegant selections at upscale restaurants. Unlike lemon juice--the traditional home-kitchen tactic used to thwart browning--the apple coating doesn't change the color, taste or texture of the fruit.

The ARS developed the coating with colleagues at Mantrose-Haeuser Co. Inc., Westport, CT, which licensed the technology from the agency. The company has exclusive rights on the technology and marketing of the formulation, which it markets under the tradename NatureSeal.

The sulfite-free coating consists of certain forms of calcium, an essential mineral, and ascorbate (vitamin C). The concept of choosing either or both of these natural compounds to retard browning isn't new. But extending a product's shelf life by using the specific forms prescribed by the scientists, at any of the ratios they recommended, is unique, we're told. NatureSeal-coated apple slices are an attractive snack that might help consumers get the recommended daily servings of fruit and fight obesity.

Further information. Dominic Wong, USDA-ARS Western Regional Research Center, Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering Research, 800 Buchanan St., Albany, CA, 94710; phone: 510-559-5860; fax: 510-559-5818; email: dwsw@pw.usda.gov.
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Jun 1, 2005
Words:324
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