The Surprising Hack That Keeps Your Produce Fresh Longer

Eating healthy is expensive, especially when it comes to produce. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be expensive, yet have a short shelf life, often causing us to toss food and money down the garbage disposal. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service estimates that 31 percent of the foods in our refrigerators, and that line the shelves of grocery stores, go uneaten, resulting in a $162 billion of wasted food each year. 

Luckily, there are great minds at work in food technology research who are searching for ways to prolong the freshness of our fruits and vegetables, which will help cut down on food waste, and ultimately save money. In fact, just last month, scientists out of Rice University in Houston, Texas released their findings on how we can use eggs that would otherwise not be used to help extend the shelf life of highly-perishable fruits and vegetables, while simultaneously benefiting the environment. This win-win hack, which involves coating fruits and vegetables with an egg mixture to keep them juicy and crisp, has some major advantages. In addition to being edible, it slows down produce from dehydrating, and washes off with water (via Rice University). 

Coating fruits and vegetables with egg can prolong their shelf life

In their experiment, Rice University scientists took some of our favorite produce — strawberries, avocados, and bananas — and coated them with a mixture that was comprised of 70 percent egg white and egg yolk. Why eggs? First, eggs provide antimicrobial protection. But they also took into account that the U.S. produces more than 7 billion eggs a year, and more than 200 million of them end up in a landfill. 

Additionally, the coating contained a nanoscale cellulose taken from wood to help keep the produce juicy, along with curcumin, a plant-based chemical, and glycerol. The results were fresher produce for a longer period of time, not just in appearance, but also in firmness (via The Counter). With some of the produce, the egg coating worked even better than synthetic film, like the kind you find on apples. Other benefits include the coating being nontoxic, and easy to wash off.

What about people who have egg allergies? The researchers are steps ahead of us. The study's authors told The Counter they see this as an opportunity to test other protein-based coatings like soy and corn.