Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Summerland, BC
It’s the darling of the fruit world. But the fruit touted for its ability to keep away doctors is also the fruit that bears the shame of too-often ending up half eaten and ignominiously tossed into the nearest wastebasket. For all its deliciousness, the ubiquitous apple has a problem – it turns brown within minutes of its delicate inner flesh being exposed to air or handled too roughly.
The technical name is enzymatic browning, and it can’t help itself. But Okanagan Specialty Fruits is a company saving the apple, along with other popular tree fruits using novel biotechnology to ensure the fruit remains wholesome, healthy, chemical free and non-browning.
The Summerland, B.C. company has developed a clever and non-chemical way to silence the enzyme that causes browning (polyphenol oxidase or PPO), which is the first sign of fruit spoilage. When this gene is rendered ineffective, the apple – as with most tree fruit – simply skips the discolouration stage. Apples that don’t scuff or turn brown when exposed to the air are a slice of heaven for consumers and fruit producers.