The days of buying fruit and then to watch it molder on the counter may be over. In a study published Friday in Scientific Reports, engineers at Tufts University report using silk to keep fruit fresh for a week without refrigeration.
They dipped strawberries and bananas into an “odorless, biocompatible silk solution” made of water and silk fibroin proteins. After dipping, engineers exposed the fruit to water vapor in a vacuum, which caused the silk proteins to bind and form a “protective film”. The film is so thin it’s nearly invisible, and UPI reports it’s biodegradable and safe to eat.
Seven days after being coated with Silk, the strawberries were still “juicy and stong” and the bananas hadn’t turned into brown mush. “Silk fibroin coatings enhance fruits’ shelf life at room conditions by reducing cell respiration rate and water evaporation”. The study also found the coating didn’t change the fruit’s texture, though a report on what it did to taste was conspicuously absent.
The coating could be a wonderful idea if human taste buds can’t perceive it, but until that’s proven, the coating won’t be covering anything you eat. Still, the study could have huge repercussions, as the UN has found that half of the world’s fruits and vegetables go bad before we’re able to eat them.