An edible film made from strawberry puree can add flavour to a banana and help keep it fresh as well, according to research presented during the 2000 International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies being held in Honolulu, HI.

 The report claims that film wraps made from broccoli, oranges, carrots, strawberries and other fruits and vegetables can be good—and tasty—oxygen barriers.

“If you look at the film alone, it looks a lot like a sheet of paper—opaque and orange, if it’s made from carrots, for example,” said Tara McHugh, Ph.D., a research food technologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS) in Albany, CA. “Strawberry is red and broccoli is green. But in contrast to other edible films, it’s very flexible without having to add plasticizers like glycerol.” 

McHugh attributes this to the naturally occurring sugars in the fruits and vegetables.

McHugh’s idea is to make preformed sheets of the films into envelope-like wraps. Other produce, baked goods, confectionery and perhaps even meat would be tucked inside.

“These films are meant not to replace synthetic packaging, but maybe to simplify it,” and they could help make the wrap recyclable, explained McHugh. “From a marketing standpoint, it would be a new and fun way to sell fruit and vegetable products while providing the added benefit of improving shelf life and quality.”

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The USDA s  currently looking to sign cooperative agreements with industry to develop the technology further. Meanwhile, ARS has filed a patent and continues working on ideas for new applications.

“You could even imagine wrapping a cut of meat in a peach film, for example,” said McHugh. “It could melt upon cooking and turn into a peach glaze.”