A grape idea: OSU researchers find new uses for pulp

Researcher Yanyun Zhao said pomace from grapes can be a sustainable material source for several items.
Courtesy OSU

Researcher Yanyun Zhao said pomace from grapes can be a sustainable material source for several items.

Oregon State University researchers have uncovered ways to convert pulp and other materials from crushed wine grapes, which would otherwise be disposed of, into several usable products.

The school’s extension service said the pomace, which consists of stems, skins and seeds, can provide substances for natural food preservatives, biodegradable packaging materials and a nutritional enhancement for baked goods.

The discovery could help defray the 4 million pounds of waste that the U.S. wine industry creates during processing each year. The bulk of the country’s wine production takes place in Oregon and California.

The pomace contains dietary fiber and phenolics that have antioxidant effects. OSU researchers dried and ground the materials to create edible and non-edible products.

“We now know pomace can be a sustainable source of material for a wide range of goods,” said researcher Yanyun Zhao, a professor and value-added food products specialist with the OSU Extension Service, in a release. “We foresee wineries selling their pomace rather than paying others to dispose of it. One industry’s trash can become another industry’s treasure.”

Wineries generally pay haulers to remove their pulp. A small percentage of the material is used in products such as fertilizer and cow feed.

The OSU work developed colorful, edible coatings and films that can be stretched over fruits, vegetables and other food products. The coatings contain antioxidants, seal in moisture and control the growth of some bacteria.

Pomace powders can also augment muffins and brownies. The powders are gluten-free, according to the school.

The pomace can also be converted into biodegradable boards that can be molded into containers, serving trays and flower pots.

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