We have shown you many times our clean room, where we process fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, which we peel and cut to sell them in a more convenient consumption format.

As a result of this work, we generate a large volume of waste, mostly skins and also seeds, specifically melon, pumpkin and watermelon seeds.

We have invested a lot of time looking for alternatives so that these by-products do not end up in the trash and generate new value. This is called the ‘circular economy’.

The different research centers, the administrations and the companies themselves are working to revalue what is now treated as waste and, although the path is complex, results are being obtained.

Pumpkin seeds, an ingredient for healthy hamburgers

In Peris we have been collaborating for three years with the School of Agricultural Engineering and Forestry and Biotechnology of Albacete (ETSIAMB), of the University of Castilla-La Mancha. There, Professor José Emilio Pardo is in charge of the project ‘Formulation and economic valorization of functional foods from seeds rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants’.

Our role is to donate melon and pumpkin seeds so that they can investigate what would happen if textured seed oil were substituted for animal fat in certain foods.

The investigation has gone through several phases. Work has been done with
Miguelitos de La Roda
and now the results of the study carried out with lamb hamburgers have been published.

Study results: healthier hamburgers

Meat patties without animal fat

For this last research, the behavior of the hamburger has been tested by generating different versions. On the one hand, three hamburgers were prepared with 50%, 75% and 100% substitution of animal fat for texturized pumpkin oil. On the other hand, three other hamburgers were prepared with the same proportions of animal fat and seed oil, but in this case melon. And all of them have been compared to a traditional hamburger, with 100% animal fat.

The first of the conclusions is objective and is related to nutritional intake. Burgers in which texturized seed oil has been used provide a higher volume of protein and total and available carbohydrates. Likewise, it has gone from a food with saturated fats in its traditional version, to a functional food with polyunsaturated fats. In other words, seed oils from both pumpkin and melon have led to the production of a healthier hamburger.

In terms of appearance, the hamburgers most highly rated by the tasting panel, by far the best compared to the traditional version, were those made with 100% seed oil, i.e. without any animal fat.

In texture, the hamburger with animal fat was the most highly valued, at a minimum distance from the hamburgers made with seed oils, specifically those with a proportion of 50% vegetable oil and 50% animal fat.

In taste, the traditional hamburger led the tasting, although the differences are not significant with the hamburgers made with seed oils, especially the melon seed oil in a proportion of 50% animal fat and 50% oil.

tasting of hamburgers made with melon and pumpkin seed oil, at the uclm, with the collaboration of Peris.

“After our study we can conclude that it is feasible to prepare Manchego lamb burgers, substituting saturated fats totally or partially, with pumpkin seed and textured melon oils. This would turn a traditional product into a functional food that would be widely accepted by consumers, according to the extrapolation of the tasting results,” says José Emilio Pardo González, head of the project and professor at the School of Agricultural Engineering and Forestry and Biotechnology of Albacete (ETSIAMB) of the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM).

Win-win project: for the food industry and the consumer

What is missing? That, in this case, the meat industry is encouraged to apply these innovations in the processing of hamburgers so that these healthy alternatives reach the consumer.

In this way, we would all win.

On the one hand, society would have healthier foods within its reach.

On the other hand, vegetable by-products that are currently discarded and still have much to contribute, such as melon and pumpkin seeds, would be revalued.

At Peris we are very pleased to collaborate in this innovative research with the UCLM, because it allows us to keep abreast of pioneering research that will revolutionize our industry and the way we feed ourselves.

We will continue to report new developments, because friends, this is already unstoppable.

The research project ‘Formulation and economic valorization of functional foods from seeds rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants‘ is co-financed by the Regional Government of Castilla-La Mancha and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) ( SBPLY/19/180501/000047).