Cornell researchers look to turn apple waste into good tasting, nutrition packed products

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ITHACA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A Cornell University professor is leading research into ways to take apple waste and turn it into nutritional and tasty products.

The process to produce apple juice, jams and cider ends up leaving roughly one-third of the fruit as waste.

Processing apples into food products leaves behind pomace – the skin, seeds, core, stems and soft tissue of the fruit.

Approximately 25 to 40 percent of apples and other fruits end up as pomace, which has little economic value and pollutes the environment.

Now, Cornell research aims to turn the nutritious leftovers into snack foods and cereals, reducing waste and creating new economic opportunities for New York companies.

Syed Rizvi, International Professor of Food Process Engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has received matching grants of $540,000 from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and the New York Apple Association.

The more than $1 million investment will aid the development of technologies to preserve the nutritional quality of pomace and convert it into edible foods with high nutritional content.

Rizvi says, “Apple pomace is a good source of energy and nutrition so the idea is how do we convert that into something very nutritionally attractive and edible that consumers are willing to pay money to buy it.”

One area Rizvi and his team are looking at that seems promising is the snack food industry, especially when he says kids get about a quarter of their calories from snacking.

“An example is bite size snack food like I’m holding up here, is a very good quality product is totally made of apple pomace and some starch and protein added to it,” he says.

Roughly one-third of all apples grown in the U.S. are used for processing.

On average, New York produces nearly 30 million bushels each year: That’s roughly 240,000 tons of New York apples that are processed annually, resulting in about 80,000 tons of pomace.

Rizvi says the length of apple season presents another challenge, “So you in short amount of time you get a tremendous amount of pomace generated, so therefore we have to have ways to store the pomace and use it as we go along.”

Pomace currently is used as animal feed or is thrown out.

Finding ways to convert the waste – which is rich in fiber, vitamins, polyphenols, antioxidants and other nutritional compounds – into value-added products is a goal of the apple industry.

The New York apple industry provides $574 million in annual economic impact for the state.

Converting waste into new economic streams stands to benefit apple processers across New York.

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