At a meeting of the American Chemical Society
(ACS), held in Philadelphia in August, scientist Xihong Li outlined the development a new spray which can be used to delay the ripening of bananas.
According to a press release
from the ACS, the coating is a made up of a special chemical called a hydrogel
made from chitosan, a substance derived from shrimp and crab shells. One of the properties of chitosan is that it is very absorbent and it is efficient at removing moisture from surfaces. Oddly, hydrogels are also used for breast implants
among other uses.
According to Red Orbit
, the spray creates a layer which prevents the release of carbon dioxide from the fruit. It also has an anti-bacterial action and can slow down the growth of microorganisms which cause food to go bad and to rot.
The initial research indicates that by spraying unripened bananas the fruit remains fresh for almost two weeks. In terms of the way a banana changes color, this means that the banana stays green for longer, delaying the color change of its skin to yellow.
The spray, if successful, could be used to treat the surfaces of other types of fruit and vegetables in order to keep them fresher for longer periods of time.
The research has been funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.