OSU researchers have discovered a way to turn the pulp from wine crushed grapes into a food preservative which is natural and biodegradable base for packaging materials, and a nutritional enhancement for baked goods.
While wineries to date are paying to have the waste hauled away, scientists now believe they will be able to sell it for more than animal feed and fertilizer.
"We now know pomace can be a sustainable source of material for a wide range of goods," says Yanyun Zhao, a value added specialist with the OSU Extension Service. "We foresee wineries selling their pomace rather than paying others to dispose of it. One industry's trash can become another industry's treasure."
The pulp, which consists of stems, skins and seeds of grapes, is packed with dietary fiber and phenolics, she explains, which have antioxidant advantages. Researchers are OSU have dried and ground it to create edible and non-edible products.
They extracted fiber from the pomace and turned it into powders that can be added to food. Phenolics also control microbial growth and keep fats from deteriorating.
The scientists added the powdery fiber to yogurts and salad dressings to extend their shelf life by up to a week with no toll on texture or taste.
The material also makes edible coatings and films that can be used on fruits, vegetables and other products to control bacterial growth.
The powder is also used in brownies and muffins to replace about 15% of the flour conventionally used, increasing the antitoxins in baked goods. They also hope to add it to yeast breads.
OSU is already looking for commercial partnerships with firms interested in marketing the products, which include biodegradable board materials which can be developed into container use, serving trays and flowerpots. After burial for about 30 days in the ground, the products degrade by up to 80%, a desirable characteristic for plantable pots used in the nursery industry.