Turning squash seconds into value-added product
Can-AM Pepper Company Ltd., a fourth-generation family-farming operation based in Aylmer, Ont., is a grower, shipper and packer of 40 different vegetables and fruits. One of Can-AM Pepper’s core products, spaghetti squash, has a serious food waste problem due to an issue called scarring – a term used to identify produce with visual skin imperfections. Can-AM wanted to turn spaghetti squash seconds into value-add, consumer packaged goods. The challenge is that spaghetti squash is fragile and difficult to process and some conventional processing destroys the strand structure. In fact, few processed spaghetti squash products are currently on the market due to this challenge.
The goal for the students and research lead Robert Lencki, PhD., at the CFWI Innovation Centre, was to create new solutions by optimizing processing technologies to provide a shelf-stable product. The team conducted extensive research throughout the project, experimenting with creating frozen products; a dry noodle product; a refrigerated product; fresh-cut options and also provided options for processing the wasted peels. After analyzing the extensive research, the Can-AM Pepper team experimented in its own test kitchen to create and introduce a frozen spaghetti squash that is pre-peeled, cored, par-baked and ready in minutes. The results of this project will contribute to the profitability and sustainability of Ontario’s fruit and vegetable sector and provide year-round revenue that will help to ensure the viability of Can-AM Pepper for generations to come.
Funding: Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).
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