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New Israeli research helps keep strawberries fresher for 15 days

Belal Abu Salha, a doctoral candidate in chemistry at Bar-Ilan University, began research on strawberries that his family grows in the Golan Heights.

Strawberries. Credit: Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay.
Strawberries. Credit: Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay.

Protesters have claimed watermelons as an anti-Israel symbol due to their colors resembling the Palestinian flag palette. Israeli researchers are making headway with a different red fruit: the strawberry.

Belal Abu Salha, a doctoral candidate in chemistry at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, and his adviser Aharon Gedanken, of the school’s chemistry department, developed a way to coat fruit and vegetables with “edible nanoparticles” that help preserve their freshness.

Abu Salha, who began his research on his family’s strawberry fields in the Golan Heights, found that he could keep strawberries fresher for up to 15 more days, according to a Bar-Ilan release.

He does so using a process called “sonication,” in which “ultra-sound energy in a liquid” is used to develop nano-coated particles of a natural substance called “chitosan.”

“Sonochemistry allows the chitosan particles to embed into the surface of the fruit and coat it quickly and efficiently, and the coating significantly decreases the damage to the fruit caused by fungi and bacteria,” Abu Salha stated.

Strawberries
Strawberries. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

“When you bombard a liquid solution with high-frequency sound waves, in a process called ultra-sonication, the solution swirls rapidly and masses of microscopic bubbles are formed that collapse into themselves,” Gedanken stated. “When the collapse occurs near a solid surface, like a strawberry or even a millimeter grain of material, liquid streams move to the surface of the solid at a very high speed and toss the particles from the solution onto the surface at enormous speeds.”

“The particles are embedded in the solid and cannot be removed, even by washing it. In this way it’s possible to assign a solid with properties it didn’t have in the first place—antibacterial properties or resistance properties, for example,” he added. “This is how antibacterial substances can be embedded in fruits and vegetables or any other material.”

In 2022, an Israeli farmer set a record for growing the world’s heaviest strawberry. This year, Israel is expecting a lower yield of strawberries.

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