Stopping Spoilage
Sydney Kagetsu, Nomuna Munkh-orgil
Point Grey Secondary
Floor Location : M 107 D

With 7.7 billion people, our society is adapting to a tremendous population with a high demand for food. This remarkable difference in society has affected the farming industry heavily, therefore, we’ve had to develop preservation methods that would feed the masses. Depriving produce from oxygen and reducing temperatures are two common practices, done by farmers, that allow food to be preserved until needed. With knowledge that the produce we purchase isn’t necessarily fresh, we were interested in testing the best anti-aging methods for produce. We used a variety of common household packaging items, as well as colder and warmer environments to determine the best combination of preserving produce. We hypothesized that if produce, like a Granny Smith Apple, were to be sealed in a Ziploc bag and placed in a fridge, the apple would decompose slowest because the fridge’s low temperature would slow the bacterial growth and the Ziploc bag would limit oxygen.

To begin, we sourced eleven, similar Granny Smith apples. Then, we weighed and made observations of each apple. According to the weights, we paired the apples, leaving one out. We concealed each pair in either aluminum foil, multipurpose sealing wrap, a plastic container, a Ziploc bag and lastly one pair untouched. With the remaining apple, we tested and recorded the acidity using pH paper. Setting our timer for 168 hours, we placed an apple from each pair in the fridge (3°C) and the other in room temperature (23°C). After the timer finished, we removed any packaging, weighed the apples and made new observations on external features. We then cut the apples open, measured the acidity and made observations on internal characteristics.

The combined results from all eight trials displayed similar patterns and the data proved that cold environments preserved the fruit more effectively. According to the results, the best material for storing was the plastic container, followed by the Ziploc bag, the multipurpose sealing wrap, the aluminum foil and lastly with no packaging. Additionally, we noted that the acidity of the apples increased. At the beginning of the trials, our control apples had an acidity of five, which is a significant change to our results, where they ranged from two to four. After the trials, there were slight decreases in weight, more signs of bruising and discoloration.

To conclude, we observed that the most effective means of preserving apples, or general produce, was to store it in the fridge, concealed in a plastic container. Minimizing air exposure and storing the produce in colder temperatures were important factors to the preservation of the
apple. Limiting air exposure deprives apples from breathing and prevents aging. Colder temperatures prevent decomposition by slowing the ripening process of starches to sugars. The reasoning behind our hypothesis was correct, however, instead of the Ziploc bag the plastic container had better results. Through this experiment we have learnt how farmers have had to adapt over time to feed the mass population and better steps we can take to preserving our produce at home.