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Fruit preservation through an edible pectin gel with a low glycemic index

CSIC has developed a fruit coating gel consisting of low methoxyl and calcium pectins. The gel is an edible protective coating that increases the shelf life of fruits during storage, slows down microbial growth and has a low glycemic index. 

Strawberries on a tray.Pectins are soluble dietary fibres that can be obtained from a wide variety of plant materials or by-products of the food industry such as sunflowers. A team from the Institute of Food Science Research (CIAL, CSIC-UAM, by its Spanish acronym), developer of the product, has worked with these plants. The coating can be used in a wide range of fruits (cranberry, cherry, strawberry, etc.) and has potential applications in other food products.

Food coating with edible film

The edible coating obtained in gel form is characterised by a percentage of pectin, calcium and sweetener and presents a low glycemic index.It makes possible to increase the useful life of red fruits in 12 days of storage at 4 ºC, all the while maintaining fruits’ strength, flavour and texture. This presents a clear advantage specially in exportation contexts, where losses for damaged fruits are very high.

The process of obtaining, purificating and producing the coating is controlled so that it can establish the film’s characteristics. The protection is carried out through a control of oxygen transfer, a reduction in ethylene production, and the improvement of the mechanical properties of the fruit. 

Industrial partners from food companies are being sought either to cooperate through a patent licence agreement to develop the product, or to invest with sources of income guided towards the constitution of a Technology-Based Enterprise whose aim is the development of the gel.

How the pectin is applied into the product

The coating of the fruit is a film of low methoxyl pectin and calcium in low content, which slows down the fruits’ metabolic activity, maintaining the loss of weight and the levels of the microorganisms within the established limits during the period of their storage.

The pectin film is applied through the immersion of fruits, which are inside a recipient, in the gel and they are afterwards left to strain. This is the direct application on the product after harvest that researchers Mar Villamiel and Nerea Muñoz have tested through a series of preliminary trials with excellent results. Other options before harvest are under consideration, such as the spraying of the gel directly onto the fruits, a mechanism that is already used with many other alimentary protectors.


Dr. Pancho Sueiro Blanco 

Area of industrial property and support to entrepreneurial activity. Results protection unit. Technology-Based Enterprise promotion unit.

Deputy Vice-Presidency for Knowledge Transfer 

Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

+34 915681572

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