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May 6, 2016 1:01 PM EDT

Scientists say they have found a way to keep fruit fresh for longer without refrigeration: cover it in silk.

Strawberries and bananas dipped in a solution made up of silk fibroin ripened less quickly than the ones without the coating, according to a study conducted by researchers who have been affiliated with the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University (Medford, Mass.).

“Silk fibroin is generally considered flavorless and odorless, which are compelling properties for food coating and packaging applications,” according to the paper. “In summary, we have demonstrated that silk fibroin is an effective, water-based coating to enhance freshness of perishable food.”

The method could have implications in terms of preventing food waste, the study’s authors write, given the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations “has estimated a 50% loss of crops throughout the food supply chain, mainly concentrated in the postharvest, distribution and end-user consumption stages and mostly due to the premature deterioration of perishable crops.”

The research appears in the May 6 issue of Scientific Reports.

Write to Olivia B. Waxman at

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