UK Research and Innovation
In conjunction with Dallaways Kentish Cherry Juice, Researchers from the School of Biosciences have been awarded funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to develop a new approach to using fruit waste to create new healthy foods, while reducing food waste.
Through the ‘Upcycled Food: Getting the Goodness out of Kent Cherries’ project, Dr Marina Ezcurra and Dr Jenny Tullet will collaborate with Michael Dallaway, owner of Kent cherry grower Rent A Cherry Tree to determine the health benefits of a variety of Kent cherry products and develop new foods from cherry waste.
This project will ascertain the exact anthocyanin levels in our cherry juice and also the pre-biotic benefits of our cherry juice. Cherries are rich in anthocyanins, chemicals with well-established health effects (protect against neurodegeneration, cancer, diabetes, obesity). Anthocyanins are also prebiotics (promoting gut health and beneficial gut microflorae). Dietary and prebiotic interventions targeting the microbiota improves health by enhancing antioxidant activity and immunity, suppressing chronic inflammation and regulating fat deposition and metabolism. In addition, gut bacteria break down anthocyanins into metabolites that are absorbed through the intestine.
Although reducing waste, pressing cherries into juice also generates by-products (pomace) that goes to landfill. Pomace is rich in fibre and nutrients, low in sugar, and can be developed into new healthy foods. We will measure the anthocyanin levels and the prebiotic properties of pomace to develop pomace into a powder that can be used as a superfood powder that can be added to smoothies, baked products, etc. Samples will be analysed for anthocyanins at the UoK Biotechnology Hub. This hub offers cutting-edge facilities using advanced analytics to extract and measure high-value compounds from plant waste. Extracted anthocyanins will be tested at the UoK Healthy Ageing Laboratory to determine their bioactivity, health and prebiotic properties in sustainable and ethical laboratory models.
As cherries are primarily sold as high-class fresh fruit, those that are bruised, soft or discoloured are often deemed unfit to sell by supermarkets. The project aims to reduce ‘waste cherries’ which are currently sent to landfill, negatively impacting productivity, carbon emissions and sustainability. With Kent being the largest cherry producer in the UK, this project will lead the way in creating a more sustainable and innovative cherry industry.
We will update this page with the projects findings and our developments as results become available.