Green, nutrient-rich coffees may be on the horizon after researchers developed a powder made from imperfect-looking broccoli that would have previously been wasted.
The product, developed by Hort Innovation and CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia's national science agency) is said to pack a healthy punch with approximately one serve of broccoli in every two tablespoons of powder.
A Melbourne café became the first to experiment brewing a broccoli latte recently, with mixed reviews.
While broccoli lattes might not suit everyone, Hort Innovation chief executive John Lloyd said the powder could be used for smoothies, soups, baking and as a way of hiding broccoli from fussy kids in meals.
"With a rising trend in healthy eating across the board, Australian growers are always looking at ways to diversify their products and cut waste while meeting consumer demand," Lloyd said.
He also said despite the increasing popularity of 'superfoods' and health and wellness, Australian diets are still poor.
"Research shows the average Australian is still not eating the recommended daily intake of vegetables a day, and options such as broccoli powder will help address this," he said.
The 100% broccoli powder is made from whole broccoli, and produced using a combination of selected pre-treatment and drying processes to retain the natural colour, flavour and nutrient composition of fresh broccoli.
Lead researcher, CSIRO's Mary Ann Augustin, said the broccoli was high in protein and fibre, and health-promoting bioactive phytochemicals, making it an ideal candidate for powder development.
"The powders are an option for farmers who want to produce value-added vegetable ingredients for the lucrative functional food markets," Augustin said. "The broccoli powder has already been used for the production of extruded snacks with high vegetable content. Prototype extruded snacks with 20-100 per cent vegetable content were displayed during National Science Week at the Queen Victoria Market last year and were well-received by parents and even by kids."
The broccoli powder, and associated extruded snacks, are being developed as part of a larger research and development project which aims to reduce vegetable waste by creating healthy food products from ‘ugly’ produce.
The next steps, Augustin said, are to take the powder into further product development and consumer sensory evaluation trials.
"The CSIRO team and Hort Innovation are discussing potential commercial applications with produce growers and grower groups across Australia who are interested in getting the powder on the market," she said.
John Said, managing director of Fresh Select, a broccoli producer, is said to be excited by the commercial opportunities available through the development of the value-added broccoli ingredients and products.
"I see this project as the emerging new food trend," Said said. "Australians don't eat enough vegetables and farmers across Australia will have access to an alternative market whilst improving farm yields and sustainability. They will also be contributing to healthier lifestyles."