Fruit waxing is the process of covering fruits (and, in some cases, vegetables) with artificial waxing material. Natural wax is removed first, usually by washing. Waxing materials may be either natural or petroleum-based.
The primary reasons for waxing are to prevent water loss (making up for the removal in washing of the natural waxes in fruits that have them, particularly citrus but also, for example, apples) and thus retard shrinkage and spoilage, and to improve appearance. Dyes may be added to further enhance appearance, and sometimes fungicides. Fruits were waxed to cause fermentation as early as the 12th or the 13th century; commercial producers began waxing citrus to extend shelf life in the 1920s and 1930s. Aesthetics—consumer preference for shiny fruit—has since become the main reason. In addition to fruit, some vegetables can usefully be waxed, such as cassava; vegetables commonly waxed include cucumbers, swedes or rutabagas, and green tomatoes. A distinction may be made between storage wax, pack-out wax (for immediate sale), and high-shine wax (for optimum attractiveness).
The waxing materials used depend to some extent on regulations in the country of production and/or export; both natural waxes (sugar-cane, carnauba, shellac, or resin) or petroleum-based waxes (usually proprietary formulae) are used. Wax may be applied in a volatile petroleum-based solvent but is now more commonly applied via a water-based emulsion. Blended paraffin waxes applied as an oil or paste are often used on vegetables. Brand names for waxes include Tal-Prolong, Semper-fresh, Frutox, Waxol, Fruit, vegetable kleen, Nipro Fresh and Decco Luster.
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