Creating value from edible vegetable waste (VG15076)
What was it all about?
This investment, which ran from 2016 to early 2019, investigated potential ways to gain value from vegetables that would otherwise be lost to the supply chain due. The project had a focus on brassica vegetable and carrots, and was responsible for the highly publicised idea of ‘broccoli lattes’, made using a high-nutrient processed broccoli powder.
Researchers worked on three potentially profitable options…
Extraction of “healthy” components from vegetable waste
The project team determined how to extract the health active compounds from broccoli and carrot, and then developed this process into a pilot concept for industry. This involved:
- For broccoli, extraction, separation and stability of sulforaphane-rich factions were established, resulting in broccoli pomace, broccoli extract and broccoli water.
- For carrot, conditions for stabilization of beta-carotene-rich fractions were investigated and a precipitation method developed to produce carrot pomace, beta-carotene ingredient, a sweetener and carrot water.
- A novel cold membrane-based concentration process (forward osmosis) was used to produce broccoli and carrot juice concentrates.
- The team also produced information on the health benefits of these products to assist with marketing.
Processing of edible waste into value added products
The project team successfully transformed fresh broccoli and carrot into shelf stable, safe, nutritious, functional ingredients and products, including broccoli and carrot powders.
The powders were manufactured using processes that keep the natural colour, flavour and the nutritional value of the vegetables, producing a highly marketable product. The new vegetable powders are nutritious, with less than two tablespoons of the powder providing one serve of vegetable. The powders, which have a long shelf life, are in a convenient form for use in smoothies, soups, baking, as hidden vegetables, and even in coffees.
Given that consumers are seeking ways to meet the recommended daily intake of vegetables a day, the product is likely to see considerable demand. A survey confirmed this, showing that 80-85% of consumers are interested in the new products. This confirms the potential to use the new broccoli and carrot powders as ingredients in healthier food options.
The team has already used the power to make extruded snacks that contain around one serve of vegetables, with further product development in planning.
Not surprisingly, the vegetable powders received lots of media coverage, particularly the idea of ‘broccoli lattes’ made using the high-nutrient powder. Powders are an option for farmers who wish to produce value-added vegetable ingredients for high value functional food markets.
Use of fermentation
The team also developed a way of fermenting broccoli and carrots to produce another type of product—purees. The fermented carrot and broccoli purees can be used as functional ingredients in beverages, smoothies, dipping, sauces, baby food and food for the elderly, with potential pre- and probiotic benefits. The fermentation process that the team developed results in purees with considerable nutritional benefits. Both purees were high in antioxidants, with the broccoli puree also higher in protein content and dietary fibre, making the new products suitable for inclusion in a range of healthier, high value products.
In addition to the media coverage, the team ensured that stakeholders along the value chain from growers through to retailers and the general public had the chance to hear about the new products, including through workshops, on-farm technology demonstrations and articles for the wider food and nutraceutical industry.
Ultimately, the new products could be made in regional processing hubs, bringing many benefits to rural communities, as well as providing a solution to a fundamental productivity issue in Australian horticulture.
Meet the lead researcher and hear about the vegetable powders in this three-minute video.
This project was a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund