OSU finds promise in wine grape pomace

muffins made of ground grape pomace
Part of the flour in these muffins consists of ground pomace, which increases their fiber content. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Winemaking waste is turned into fiber supplement, food preservative and flowerpots

The U.S. wine industry creates a tremendous amount of waste from processing more than 4 million tons of grapes each year. Wineries typically pay to haul away the waste, which is known as pomace and consists of grape stems, skins and seeds. The pulp is rich in fiber and antioxidants and also acts as a food preservative.

OSU researchers have found practical uses for it – potentially creating new revenue sources for the state's 379 grape-crushing wineries. Scientists added the powdery fiber to yogurt, salad dressing, bakery goods and processed meats to extend their shelf life by a week. They've also used pomace to make colorful, edible coatings and films that can be stretched over fruits, vegetables and other foods. The coatings and films contain antioxidants, seal in moisture and delay the growth of some bacteria. Additionally, researchers ground it into flour, and baked muffins and brownies with it. And they molded it into biodegradable containers, flowerpots and serving trays.

With Oregon producing 46,000 tons of wine grapes in 2012, there's a steady supply of pomace for these products.

Sources: Yanyun Zhao, a value-added food products specialist with OSU Extension; USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service; Oregon Wine Board; Southern Oregon University's 2012 Oregon Winery and Vineyard Census Report.

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