PORTLAND - Imagine biting into a juicy apple or pear and experiencing a zinging, fizzy sensation. "Fizzy Fruit," a carbonated fruit should be commercialized soon, thanks in part to work done by Oregon State University researchers at the Oregon Food Innovation Center in Portland.
Fizzy fruit was discovered by accident. Galen Kaufman, a Texas neurobiologist and Fizzy Fruit's inventor, discovered it while he was on a sailing trip. Biting into a pear that had been in a cooler chilled with dry ice, he sensed an unusual fizziness in the fruit. He found the carbonation delightful.
Being a scientist, Kaufman quickly figured out that some of the dry ice in the cooler had sublimated, changing from a solid directly into carbon dioxide gas, entering the fruit. Kaufman's pear had become carbonated by the dry ice used to chill the sailboat cooler.
Kaufman liked fizzy fruit so much that he decided to try to develop it into a commercial product. He applied for a U.S. patent for the intellectual concept of carbonated fruit. Then, he contacted OSU professor John Henry Wells, renowned expert in food packaging and storage at the Food Innovation Center in Portland. Kaufman wanted the center's help to develop a patentable process of carbonating fruit on a commercial scale.
OSU's Qingyue Ling, the product development engineer for the Food Innovation Center, came up with designs for the manufacture of fizzy fruit, including computerized-controlled techniques. Patents were filed and are pending, with OSU and Kaufman's company "Fizzy Fruit, North America" as co-owners, according to the OSU Technology Transfer office.
"Think about a soft drink with CO2," said Ling. "The soft drink has carbon dioxide gas dissolved in it. As the temperature is raised or the pressure is lowered, the gas is released as bubbles. The same thing happened to Kaufman's fruit."
The inventor and the OSU researchers envision that the fizzy fruit may encourage people to eat healthier diets by consuming more fruit. Ling foresees fizzy fruit as becoming a big hit with school children.
"Children like something fun, like fizzy fruit," said Ling. "And their mothers like the fact that their kids will be eating more fruit.
"Eating more fruit will also help with the national obesity epidemic, "he added.
Fizzy Fruit plans on marketing its new product to school lunch programs and other children's markets.
This work is the first commercialization of a patent at the Food Innovation Center in Portland. This project is one of dozens at the center, jointly run by OSU and Oregon Department of Agriculture.
The center develops food products and concepts for food producers, processors, marketers and entrepreneurs. The OSU and Oregon Department of Agriculture staffs at the center include technologists, engineers, economists and business experts.
For more information, contact Qingyue Ling, Food Innovation Center, OSU, 1207 N.W. Naito Parkway, Suite 154, Portland, OR 97209, 503-872-6652.