Category Archives: Sources of Information

Fruit and Vegetable Waste That is Not Really Waste

Fruit and Vegetable Waste: Bioactive Compounds, Their Extraction, and Possible Utilization  Narashans Alok Sagar, Sunil Pareek, Sunil Sharma, Elhadi M. Yahia , and Maria Gloria Lobo 2018. Comprehensive reviews in Food Science and Food Safety Vol 00. Available online: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324170873_Fruit_and_Vegetable_Waste_Bioactive_Compounds_Their_Extraction_and_Possible_Utilization

Years ago when I was completing my PhD on lingonberries I learned quite a lot about fruit processing how even the steam created in the process of making lingonberry sauce was captured and “mined” for a whole host of volatile and aromatic compounds that were packaged and sold for use somewhere else in the food industry. This article is a fascinating review of even more modern techniques being used to extract bioactive compounds from what would otherwise be called food waste.  After the apple has been peeled and sliced, there is a tremendous waste stream that includes stems, peels, seeds and pulp that usually ends up in a compost pile or worse- buried in a landfill. “.. Apples generate 10.91% of seed and pulp as by-products, and 89.09% of final products during slicing.”  When you think about the tons of apple products made worldwide, that’s a lot of waste from a single fruit! Bananas yield 35% waste through their peel!

“Losses and waste occur during all phases of the supply and handling chain, including during harvesting, transport to packinghouses or markets, classification and grading, storage, marketing, processing, and at home before or after preparation. Losses occur throughout the supply chain from production throughout all postharvest stages before consumption.”

Although this article emphasizes tropical fruits, it is an eye opener as far as what is actually left behind after processing, and the technology being used to capture such things as dietary fiber, phenolic compounds, flavorings, aromas and more. Most fascinating is a list of fruits that are treated with microorganisms to release a whole rainbow of enzymes, organic acids, and proteins that are then packaged and used in other food products as stabilizers, agents to prevent browning in processed products. We often look at the food industry in a poor light, but food chemistry is far more complex than most people realize, and this is a great example of recycling and repurposing that has been happening for many years.

The article also describes methods by which this waste extraction happens. Such exotic processes as microwave-assisted extraction, pulsed electrical field extraction, enzyme assisted and liquid to liquid extraction seem so foreign but are part of a growing technology to harvest everything of value from the waste stream and make it useful. Pretty impressive! Of course, you could eat the entire apple- peels, seeds and all, but even that would not provide the valuable components liberated by the many extraction techniques.

 

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Ode to pollinators

If you’re a gardener, berry lover, or if you eat food, it wouldn’t hurt to spend a little more time appreciating our pollinators. One of my favorite authors, Rowan Jacobsen, wrote an enlightening book on the topic of pollination–Fruitless Fall (see below), in particular, on colony collapse disorder in honeybees. It’s frightening to think about the fragility of our current system of pollination. Luckily, wild berries in Alaska do not depend on managed hives for pollination. On my reading list since I read Fruitless Fall is  Forgotten pollinators. We should probably all spend a little more time appreciating these flying wonders. I enjoyed watching the beautiful video of buzz pollination(see below)  And while we’re on the topic, check out the Xerces society. They have a plethora of great resources on protecting and appreciating our sometimes forgotten and under-appreciated invertebrates. HR Fairbanks
Buchman, S. L. 1997. Forgotten pollinators. Island Press.
Karl Foord. 2014. Buzz Pollination. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HOEuqJUvPE
Jacobsen, R. 2010. Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis. Bloomsbury, USA.
Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation (Home Page). 2016. Available at: http://www.xerces.org. 14 Sept, 2016.

Fairbanks Facebook Link

One place that has been helpful for tips about the best places to pick in the Interior has been the “Fairbanks, Alaska” public group on Facebook. This summer, folks were posting updates about when blueberries were ripe on Nordale, which picking spots were closed due to wildfire, etc. Here is a bookmark, although you do have to be logged in to Facebook to see the group posts:Fairbanks Facebook Link

Berry Folklore

In addition to the science, there are also cultural aspects to berries that are worth noting. Some berry folklore for you, compiled by Cornell University: Berry Folklore

Berry Guide

I wanted to share one of my favorite berry guides. It’s a small book that you can slip in your pocket while you berry pick and has great full-color pictures of both flowers and berries on each berry plant. They also categorize berries according to color and if they are poisonous. Really handy.Berry Guide Berry guide2

Some Good Alaska Sites

Facebook is a great place to connect with other Alaska berry hunters/foragers. Here are three Alaskan groups with lots of information and members to share knowledge with:

Alaska berry pickers: Alaska Berry Pickers

Alaska edible and medicinal plants: Alaska Edibles and Medicinals

Alaska wildcrafting and foraging: http://Alaska Wildcrafting and Foraging

Enjoy!

Medicinal Plants

Although not strictly a “berry book”, Medicinal Flora of the Alaska Natives by Ann Garibaldi is an excellent resource to learn about traditional uses of local plants. While we all may know of many ways to utilize the fruits themselves, this book gives information about how other parts of the plant are used as well. For example, the Dena’ina people prepared a tea of crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) leaves for stomach ailments, and while we often think of pumpkin berries (Geocaulon lividum) as inedible the leaves have been used by the Dena’ina people as a poultice.

The book is out of print, but is available for free online as a PDF from the Alaska Natural Heritage Program.