Did you know that apples produce their own wax?
Why Is There Wax on Apples?
Like pumpkin spice lattes and leaves falling from the trees, apples are a sign of fall for plenty of people. But some have started to feel concerned about the safety of some types of apples due to online videos warning about the dangers of wax coatings on the fruit.
Coating apples with wax isn’t harmful to the people or other animals who eat the fruits. In fact, the wax coating offers many benefits, protecting the fruits and ensuring they have a pleasing texture and delicious taste. Learn more about wax on apples, including where it comes from and why it’s there.
Is the Wax on Apples Natural?
Did you know that apples produce their own wax coating? This wax is commonly referred to as “bloom” and appears as a white coating on the apples. This natural coating helps to preserve the fruit during the growing process. The bloom or natural wax coating is usually removed when the apples are washed during the picking and packaging process.
Apples are just one of several types of fruits that make their own wax — pears and plums also produce a natural wax coating. The coating contains up to 50 compounds, many of which are esters. Of the wax’s compounds are triterpenoids, such as ursolic acid. Ursolic acid inhibits aromatase, which can in turn help limit the production of estradiol, a type of estrogen that can lead to cancer. While the level of ursolic acid found in the skin of apples is probably not high enough to have a major health benefit, it also doesn’t hurt.
Benefits of Natural Apple Wax
The wax that naturally forms on apples protects the fruit when it’s on the tree and just after harvest. Some of the benefits of natural apple wax include:
- Moisture retention: Think of biting into an apple. You want it to be crisp and juicy. The skin of the apple helps to trap the moisture in the cells of its flesh, and the wax on the skin offers an additional layer of protection. Without the wax, the apple will quickly dry out, becoming shriveled and unpalatable.
- Mold growth inhibition: The natural wax coating also keeps mold from growing on the surface of the apple.
- Ripening delay: When apples are surrounded by a wax coating, the ripening and decay process slows down. The apple is exposed to less outside air, so it doesn’t start to break down as soon. Protected by the wax, the apple can thrive on the tree and can continue to ripen after picking.
- Bacterial protection: Just as the wax keeps mold from growing, it also protects the fruit from invasions by bacteria and other microorganisms. The microbes can’t penetrate the surface of the apple thanks to the wax.
Why Companies Add Wax to Apples
The natural wax coating on apples does an excellent job of protecting the fruit, but it washes away easily after harvesting. Fruit producers typically wash the apples after picking them to remove any dust or debris, and the washing process also wipes away the wax. To extend the life of the fruits and to keep them looking shiny and attractive on supermarket shelves, many food producers recoat the fruits with a food-grade wax.
The food-grade wax used to coat apples, as well as other fruits and vegetables, is typically a type of emulsion made with carnauba wax. Other types of wax that might be used include shellac or beeswax.
The carnauba wax gives apples a shiny appearance and is indigestible by humans and would simply pass through your system untouched, similar to the way chewing gum would if accidentally swallowed. Once applied to the apples, the wax provides similar benefits as natural wax. It keeps the fruits from ripening too quickly, protects against bacteria and mold, and protects the fruit from damage. Added wax can also enhance the apples’ appearance. Just think of how shiny and appealing most fruits look when lined up in the produce aisle.
Find Food-Grade Wax With Blended Waxes, Inc.
In need of waxes for food purposes, like coating cheese products? Blended Waxes has your solution. We’re a bulk wax manufacturer offering a variety of wax products to suit various industries. You can browse our wax products or learn more about the types of waxes used for food here.