Researchers from the Miguel Hernandez University (UMH) of Elche have developed a persimmon flour from the skin and pulp remaining from juice production.
This natural surplus is dehydrated and ground in two processes that don't require much technology and have a relatively low cost. The result is a powder with a high content of bioactive compounds that has numerous advantages for the food industry, stated scientist Raquel Lucas Gonzalez. Persimmon flour contains a high amount of carotenes (with provitamin A activity), polyphenolic compounds (antioxidants with anticancer properties), and fiber. Different studies have shown that the regular consumption of this fruit helps prevent cardiovascular diseases, lower blood cholesterol, and keep glucose levels stable.
"The flour is obtained through a simple process that takes a little more than 24 hours, doesn't require too much investment, does not generate waste, and can generate income," Lucas Gonzalez stressed.
Researchers have already successfully incorporated this flour into pasta and pâté production. Due to its special characteristics, it could also be used in bakery or pastry products as a substitute for wheat and as a source of natural sugars, or even in sauces due to its thickening qualities.
This is also a solution for juice manufacturers who didn't know what to do with the surplus left over from their production, i.e. some 500 grams per kilogram of persimmon they used. This surplus of skin and pulp must be managed with some haste because it ferments and requires transport and storage costs in waste management centers.
Under the scientific direction of Juana Fernandez Lopez and Manuel Viuda Martos, this new ingredient could have a good acceptance in the market both as a natural food coloring due to its orange color similar to saffron, as a water binder or thickener, as a natural antioxidant, or as a source of nutrients.
This flour is compatible with a sustainable industry that does not emit waste and the circular economy because it reintroduces a surplus into the food industry that would end up being discarded, stated Juana Fernandez Lopez.