CSIRO experiments with broccoli lattes

Researchers have developed a broccoli powder that could be used to make a nutrient-rich, green coffee.

Hort Innovation and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, developed the broccoli powder, made from imperfect-looking broccoli that would have previously been wasted.

The 100-per-cent 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. There’s approximately one serve of broccoli in every two tablespoons of the powder.

Lead CSIRO researcher, Mary Ann Augustin, says broccoli is 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,” Mary says.

“The broccoli powder has already been used for the production of extruded snacks with high vegetable content.

Mary says prototype extruded snacks with 20 to 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 kids.

Recently, a Melbourne café became the first to experiment with the powder and brewed a broccoli latte, with mixed reviews.

While broccoli lattes might not suit everyone, Hort Innovation chief executive John Lloyd says the powder could be used to make 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,” John says.

He also says that 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,” John says.

The broccoli powder, and associated extruded snacks, are also 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, Mary says, 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 says.

John Said, Managing Director of Fresh Select, a leading broccoli producer, is 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,” he says. “Australians don’t eat enough vegetables and farmers across Australia will have access to an alternative market whilst improving farm yields and sustainability.”