Israeli scientists have found a way to repurpose unwanted and damaged apples that would otherwise go to waste into a “superfood powder” aimed at being a healthier alternative to sugar and a nutritional supplement.
Dr. Ofir Benjamin from Tel Chai Academic College and Professor Raffi Stern from MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute of the Galilee Development Authority in northern Israel produced a powder from second- and third-rate apples that is freeze-dried and to which small amounts of milk powder is added to prevent crystallization, the Tazpit Press Service (TPS) first reported this week in a Jewish Press article.
Dr. Benjamin told the news service that the two embarked on the research in an effort to find a solution to the huge amounts of apples that are discarded every year in Israel for not meeting market standards, whether due to appearance, or falling to the ground before ripening. The waste is estimated at some 15,000 metric tons, or about 10 percent of the country’s annual yield, according to the report, which amounts to over NIS 25 million in lost income every year.
The powder has 600mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, has no food coloring or preservatives and is rich in antioxidants and nutritional fiber, according to the researchers. It is intended as a healthy sweetener for soft drinks and a supplement.
“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,” Dr. Benjamin told TPS.
Benjamin, a lecturer and researcher at the Food science department at Tel Hai College, said that he and Professor Stern, who has a PhD in Horticulture from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, began their research in 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 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,” he added.
With the new discovery, he said, “now apple growers will be able to take advantage of fruit that otherwise would have gone to waste.”
The scientists are set to present their findings at an agricultural conference hosted by the Galilee Development Authority next week.