OSU Researchers Develop Blueberry Outer Coat for Longevity

Researchers at Oregon State University have developed new techniques for handling fresh blueberries — including a method of pre-washing them for market and applying an edible coating intended to extend the shelf life of this popular Oregon crop.
The coatings are being used by scientists in OSU’s College of Agricultural Science on two varieties of blueberry, Duke and Elliott. The coatings can also slow decay and water loss after the fruit is washed.
Yanyun Zhao, a professor in OSU’s Department of Food Science and Technology, was involved in two years of trials in which fresh blueberries were first washed with chlorinated water then dipped in one of five different edible coatings before being placed in storage containers.
The berries were evaluated for quality after 15 days. Results from the study suggest that this technique could be used to develop ready-to-eat blueberries with no reduction in shelf life.
Findings will be published in the journal Postharvest Biology and Technology, which is in press. Bernadine Strik, a professor in OSU’s Department of Horticulture, is co-author on the study.
Oregon is home to more than 300 blueberry growers, with annual production at 40 million pounds. About 30 to 50 percent of that is sold as fresh berries. Acreage devoted to the crop has increased four-fold in the last decade, according to the Oregon Agricultural Statistics Service, with farm sales totaling more than $37 million last year.
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