Pomace into profit: OSU research yields healthful, tasty products

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

OSU scientists, led by Yanyun Zhao, are creatively solving an age-old problem in the fruit juice and wine industries: What to do with the skins, seeds and stems? This material, called pomace, composes approximately 25 percent of the total mass of the crop.

It’s not just a matter of sustainability, notes Zhao—there’s a lot to salvage from grapes, apples, and other fruits. “When you drink juice, you mostly get sugar and water, and a bit of antioxidants and dietary fiber,” she says. “But the seeds and skins are loaded with fiber and phenolics.” These healthful phytochemicals, including antioxidants and micronutrients, are usually turned to compost or cattle feed, or even dumped in landfills and wasted.

Over the last decade Zhao and her team have developed a variety of fruit-pomace flours, which contain no gluten, to substitute for 15 to 25 percent of wheat flour in baked goods. They’ve incorporated pomace into bread, cookies, granola bars, muffins, and even mustard, beef jerky and chicken patties. “Pomace holds water,” she says of the savory applications, “plus it tastes really good, with some fruity flavor.” Consumer studies indicate that these products are well received, she says.

Pomace can also be used to supplement wood fibers in biodegradable packaging. Her team filed a provisional patent in October 2016 for some pomace-incorporated packaging designs. “We are working with several commercial companies, but info is confidential at this stage,” says Zhao. “The application possibility is huge.”

Sources: Yanyun Zhao, OSU Department of Food Science & Technology

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