21 Feb 2020

PRUINA: WHAT'S THAT WHITE POWDER ON BLUEBERRIES?

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The blueberries are often covered by a whitish veil.

Insiders know that it is the pruine, a natural wax that covers some fruits (plums, grapes, blueberries), protecting them from ultraviolet rays and preventing them from drying out.

This is therefore a positive characteristic which is also recognised by European legislation which, in the case of grapes, states that 'the grapes must be [...] as far as possible covered with their bloom'.

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Blueberries with bloom
Photo by Andréa Akers on Unsplash

But consumers often think that this patina on blueberries is a defect denoting lack of freshness, some hygiene problem or other negative aspect, which may not be clear but nevertheless ends up negatively influencing the purchase decision.

While this may also be a negative feature for the consumer, operators from production and marketing generally seek to maximise the presence of bloom at all stages of marketing to preserve it until consumption.

In fact, the bloom is very delicate: it is not perceived by touch, but disappears when touched, leaving the underlying epidermis shimmering. Therefore, every handling reduces its presence: it starts during the harvest in the countryside and continues during the selection and packaging phase in the processing warehouses.

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Blueberries that have lost their bloom as a result of handling

Since the effect on bloom of these manipulations is greater if harvesting or subsequent processing is carried out mechanically, there is a great deal of attention in developing harvesting systems and mechanical processing that preserve bloom.

The persistence of the bloom is also a characteristic that is taken into account when evaluating new varieties of blueberriesto move them from the experimental to the commercial stage.

There is therefore a different perception between professionals and consumers, to which the scientifically incorrect messages that are disseminated in unexpected contexts also contribute, such as when the technical data sheet of the organic blueberry sold online by Rewe reads 'Wash the berries thoroughly and remove the white coating'.

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So it blooms yes or it blooms no? In conclusion certainly yes, despite certain prejudices and some misinformation!

It is up to operators in the sector to inform the consumer adequately: bloom is not a negative element but a sure indicator of freshness and integrity.

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