World’s first low-calorie fermented flours tackle food waste and fibre deficiency

As well as health benefits, the flours have a number of potential applications, including natural colouring of vegan food.

31 January 2019
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The world’s first low-calorie fermented flours have been created from food leftovers, and the entrepreneurs behind them are now looking to work with food companies to develop the invention further.

Eleven types of flour have been made using byproducts from the juicing industry, including the pulp, seeds and skins of apples, oranges, carrots, kiwi fruit, figs, four types of grape – pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, merlot and a German variety – as well as beetroots and parsnips. Ugly produce deemed unfit for retail has been incorporated, too.

The duo behind the flours are former Auckland university associate professor Silas Villa-Boas and doctoral graduate Ninna Granucci, both of whom recently moved to France to launch their company, Green Spot.

The flours took three years to develop, Granucci tells Food Spark, and the products have already undergone some trials.

“We did one with a white bread gluten-free recipe, where we replaced different ingredients and used the fermented apple, orange and carrot flour. We replaced the egg whites as well as the soy flour and it worked,” she explains. “We also did a trial with a corn-based biscuit where we replaced the wheat flour completely.”

The pair envisage their range being used in everything from snack bars, brownies, cakes, pizza bases and protein bars to smoothie mixes, pasta, vegan products and dietary supplements.

Each flour has its own taste, flavour, colour and functionality. For example, orange flour has naturally sweet notes but no sugar, carrot flour is bland, while the pinot noir flour has a mild wine flavour and smell.

The red grape flours could also be a new way to naturally colour a product by replacing dyes and adding nutrition, says Granucci, including in vegan meat alternatives.

“This year we are looking to partner with different food manufacturers that are interested in testing the new products and are also working with an application lab that will formulate a few recipes to give us a better understanding,” she adds.

Fermentation frenzy

Green Spot’s roots lie in a desire to tackle worldwide food waste, which has reached approximately 1.3bn tonnes a year, with fruit and veg contributing 40% of the total.

Villa-Boas says that experiments with the fermentation process revealed that dry flour was one of the most stable options.

“We had a small pilot plant in New Zealand where we were scaling up in terms of getting a consistent product, improving productivity and running formulation trials,” he comments. “I think we will be able to produce commercially from 2021 – we still have to clear the manufacturing plant. We have designed one with engineers here in France and are running more formulation trials.”

The team are also looking to other byproducts that are common in Europe to add to their flour line-up, such as silverbeet, gooseberries, potatoes, tomatoes and green veg.

But one of the biggest surprises for Villa-Boas was the health benefits of the flours. The researchers discovered their creations were rich in protein and dietary fibre, as well as low in carbs, sugar and fat. The flours are also gluten-free, vegan-friendly and high in prebiotic fibre.

“The low calories are because of the fermentation process. If you just dry and grind the byproducts without fermentation, you just have a very sugary product, but the fermentation transforms it,” he says.

“No other flour has the amount of dietary fibre and variety and versatility because [our flour] has a high content of beta-glucans and also plant-based fibre. A lot of clinical studies have shown that dietary fibre is effective in reducing cholesterol absorption, sugar absorption, increasing movement of gut, helping weight management and diabetes. Some of the flours have more calcium than in milk.

“There is a lot to be explored in this area and we want to engage with academia to do some nutrition trials.”

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