The avid use of packaging to prolong freshness and morphology 

Valentine’s Day is approaching and soon the markets and card shops will be filled with silly novelties. One particular novelty made the news here in HK for the wrong reason. 

Valentine’s Day Strawberry


CitySuper, one of the high end supermarkets has stocked up on a special Kotoka Strawberry from Japan. The problem, highlighted on social media, was it’s over-the-top packaging. Nestled in a styrofoam netting and encased in a custom box with a clear cover, the strawberry was designed with Valentine’s Day in mind. The packaging looks like it could fit 4 equal sized strawberries easily. 


What perverse pleasure there is in the consumption of one strawberry boggles the mind… unless it is infused with aphrodisiac properties that when your loved one bites into it, they…. (I’ll leave this part up to your imagination). 

Japanese strawberries on sale at Taste


Pretty much all the high end fruits from Taiwan and Japan are packaged this way for sale at the supermarket.

Green groups in Hong Kong are up in arms over the wasteful packaging and are pressuring the supermarkets to reduce fruit packaging. This is all very well, except that the people running these green organisations are gweilos (no offence meant) who haven’t observed locals and chinese people in general buying fruit. 

In my observations, many of the auntie and granny looking types like to hover by the fresh fruit crates, this is for two reasons. 

1) they are using all the processing power they have to compute the price per fruit and which is more expensive and why. Then…

2) they wait to see who else is buying what. If they see several picking fruit from a particular crate, the rate of attraction suddenly increases and there’s a waterhole effect where all the grannies need to get their hands on one before it runs out. 

In the meantime, the fruit in this crate (let’s say apples in this case), get picked and pressed and generally molested all around. If for any reason it is dissatisfactory, it gets tossed back into the crate and another is subjected to the same fate until the granny finds the best one. Ok, I confess that I am like a granny in my selection, and that is because the apples I purchase are the most expensive and I’d like to ensure that they are edible after everyone else has had a go. So what does the supermarket do with all this spoiled rejected apples? I suppose it’s off to the processing plant and that’s where the juices on the shelf come from. 

Anyway. In the case of the durian, the fruit can be shipped in its husk if fresh. That’s probably the greenest packaged pricey fruit there is. However, many are being sold frozen now, cling film is used to conserve shape and hygiene on a piece by piece basis. That’s still at least a meter or two of cling film per durian.

If only someone could recycle durian husks into a biodegradable packaging for durian and other fruits… that would be very green indeed. 

Alternatively, get all the fussy ones to head off to the wet market where the fruit man watches his fruit like a hawk and everything gets dropped together in a bag on the assumption that you’ll handle them with care.

This is how the Kotoka Strawberry is packaged in Japan. Where do all their packaging waste go? Or is it only for export?

Durian’s spikey husk photos

I know that there are many fans of durian photos, it’s just one of those fruits that happens to be extremely photogenic. The contrast and different shades of green, stems and geometric spikes, the various curves of the fruit from top to bottom. There’s so much to admire even before you open it.

As I was waiting for the fruit man to open my fresh coconut, I decided to take a few close up photos of the durians on display ( 5 new cases in fridge he said).

So here are some durian husk close ups for your enjoyment.

Mao shan wang durian husk closeup

  

different shades of durian

  

a very fresh stem

 

Durian Gargle? Durian Handwash?

Please don’t ask me why I found this article but I did. I have a slight obsession with teeth at the moment and it was interesting to read that the husk of the durian has some antiseptic properties which some very entrepreneurial scientists are proposing to make a mouthwash with.

(The bit about toxicity and death in the research aspect of the article is particularly amusing)

Already we know that there is something in the durian pellicle that people believe can make the smell from your hands go away, as long as the water is run through it (see this post). Maybe in addition to considering the mouthwash to combat halitosis, they can make a handwash to combat the trapped aromas on skin surfaces too. Now there’s a new business idea….

From: Dental Tribune

A Durian a day keeps caries away, research from Asia suggests

by Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

LAS VEGAS, Nev., USA: A sugary gel found on the thorn-covered husks of the Durian fruit is currently under observation by researchers for its potential to work as a mouth disinfectant. Students from the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Chulalongkorn in Bangkok, Thailand, recently presented their intitial findings at the Annual Meeting of the American Dental Association in Las Vegas, the online portal drbiscus.com reports.

They found that the substance made of polysaccharides was able to reduce the number of Streptococcus mutans in lab rats hours after use which would make it as effective as 0.2% chlorhexidine, a common formula used in mouth rinses. Studies on human subjects also showed a reduction of hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, and dimethyl sulphide, compounds responsible for halitosis or bad breath. No evidence of treatment-related gross toxicity or deaths caused by exposure to mouth rinse with durian polysaccharide gel (DPG) was observed, the researchers stated.

Durian is popular in many Southeast Asian countries including Thailand and Malaysia which are the world’s largest importers of the fruit. It’s root and leaves are often used in traditional medicine.

Earlier research conducted with durian polysaccharide gel have confirmed the antibacterial properties of the gel.