by Mara Vigevani
Blemished apples that used to be thrown away or sold to the juice industry for rock-bottom prices can now be used to create a “superfood” powder thanks to research conducted at Tel-Chai Academic College and the Galilee Development Authority. Researchers found that is possible to make high-quality apple powder with surprising nutritional benefits from second- and third-rate apples that otherwise would be wasted.
Dr. Ofir Benjamin from Tel Chai Academic College and Prof. Raffi Stern from MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute of the Galilee Development Authority, wanted to find a solution to the 15,000 tons of apples, some 10 percent of the annual yield, discarded each year in Israel due to appearance, size or falling to the ground before ripening. The discarded apples have traditionally been sold to the juice industry for a fraction of their value or even just thrown away, leading to some NIS 25 million in lost income each year.
Benjamin and Stern came up with a powder that is first grated and then freeze dried with the addition of a very small amount of milk powder to prevent crystallization. The powder is intended as a healthy alternative to sugar to sweeten soft drinks and as a natural nutritional supplement. With 600 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, it contains three times more vitamin C than guava, the fruit that has the highest amount of the vitamin per 100 grams, and ten times more vitamin C than orange juice. It also has a high percentage of antioxidants and nutritional fiber, the researchers say, making it a ‘superfood.’
“We began our research last September with the aim of looking at what we could do with the enormous quantities of apples that the industry discards every year,” Dr. Benjamin told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “We went to Bereshit, one of the major apple producers in the country, and took samples of different kind of apples: second and third grade as well as apples designated for grocery shops and we found there is no difference between the powder produced with first choice apples and second and third grade apples.”
According to Binjamin, the powder has many advantages such as no preservatives, no food coloring, and 100 percent natural ingredients, but more importantly, he says, it is a major breakthrough for farmers.
“Now apple growers will be able to take advantage of fruit that otherwise would have gone to waste,” he says. “The powder can be integrated into many food products and enrich their nutritional values, give them a refreshing apple flavor and turn them into a superfood,” he adds.
The research will be presented for the first time next week at the ‘Agricultural Innovation’ conference of the Galilee Development Authority.