Professor Ofir Benjamin (front center) and some of his students at Tel-Hai College in Israel. Professor Ofir Benjamin (front center) and some of his students at Tel-Hai College in Israel. Professor Ofir Benjamin (front center) and some of his students at Tel-Hai College in Israel. (Photo: Courtesy Ofir Benjamin)

Scientists have discovered a way to make apples last an entire year

Bad apples get new lease on life as powder, thanks to Israeli food researchers.

Farmers end up throwing away about 10% of their apple yield – mostly from apples that have fallen to the ground and no longer look pretty enough to end up in grocery stores. Other apples are tossed because they're too small, too big or have sun spots. Indeed, according to the U.N., an estimated 1.3 billion tons of produce is thrown in the trash each year, resulting in a loss of about $1 trillion.

But Ofir Benjamin, a food scientist at Tel-Hai College in northern Israel, had another idea: What if those "bad apples" could have a second life? Along with his colleague, Professor Raffi Stern from the Migal Research Institute, they brought apples to a laboratory and ground them up into a fine powder. Afterwards, they analyzed the nutritional value: the vitamin C, the dietary fiber, the antioxidant activity and so forth. What they found shocked them: The powder had the same nutritional value as regular apples.

Apples being sorted at a production facility. Apples being sorted at a production facility. (Photo: Crbellette / Shutterstock)

Not only were they able to save tons of apples from the trash bin, but they ended up discovering something else: The powder they invented could sit on your shelf for a long time without spoiling. "If you vacuum seal it, it can last for more than a year," Benjamin told From The Grapevine.

It could be used for long trips – like an astronaut going to the moon – or in your pantry for the next time you want to bake apple cake and don't have any apples in the house. But the scientists see an even bigger potential for their new product. "We're going to attempt to bring it into the food industry," Benjamin explained. They've been in touch with a couple of major food manufacturers in Israel to help introduce the powder as an alternative ingredient for apple-flavored products that you'd find in the grocery story, like cereal. They've already received calls from food companies in Russia, Poland and Japan that are interested in the powder.

Apples are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. Apples are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. (Photo: Ekaterina Pokrovsky / Shutterstock)

Apple powder is just the tip of the iceberg. Along with some of his students, Benjamin created a snack called Fruit Balls consisting of only three components: banana, peanuts and protein powder. There's no preservatives or flavorings, no added sugar, no salt and oil, and its neither fried nor baked.

He studies everything from dairy technology to sensory analysis. His lab has an electronic tongue that can detect fake olive oil. He's even researching edible insects. "I like grasshoppers," he told us with a laugh, adding that they've made bread using grasshopper powder. And pudding from honeybee larvae. Next up for him is building a robot that mimics the chewing movements of a human mouth.

That's great and all, but inquiring minds want to know: does he like fruit? "Yes, I like bananas, and apples and peaches," he told us. "Every day I eat at least one apple."

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Scientists have discovered a way to make apples last an entire year
Bad apples get new lease on life as powder, thanks to Israeli food researchers.