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SPRING 2009
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Made@CALS

Butternut Squash Seed Oil Goes to Market

By Joe Ogrodnick

What's a farm operation to do with the tons of waste generated when their butternut squash is processed? Contact the Food Venture Center (FVC) at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station and turn it into liquid gold, of course.

FVC director Olga Padilla-Zakour, left, technician Herb Cooley,
middle, and Greg Woodworth of Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods
display bottles of butternut squash seed oil.
Joe Ogrodnick, NYSAES
FVC director Olga Padilla-Zakour, left, technician Herb Cooley, middle, and Greg Woodworth of Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods display bottles of butternut squash seed oil.

Two years ago Dave Schwartz, a consultant who works with John B. Martin and Sons Farm in Brockport, N.Y., contacted the FVC about his squash byproduct. The farm, one of the region's largest growers of butternut squash, creates a significant amount of waste, including seeds, when preparing its product for market. Through funds from the New York Farm Viability Institute's Agriculture Innovation Center Program, which focuses on adding value to agricultural products, the FVC went to work.

"The farm sent us 600 pounds of seeds and peels," says Herb Cooley, a technician at FVC. "One of our trials involved separating the seed from the rest of the waste and drying it. We then tried roasting some of the seed and pressing that in our oil press, which yielded an excellent result."

Cold-pressed, nutty-flavored butternut squash seed oil was born—perfect for salad dressings, marinades, and sautéing.

Cooley referred Schwartz to the Stony Brook Cookie Co., which is located at the Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park in Geneva, to see if the squash seed oil might have possibilities as an ingredient in the company's cookie recipes.

"While the oil never materialized as a cookie ingredient, we did recognize the opportunity to market it as a stand-alone product for the specialty food market," says Stony Brook co-owner Greg Woodworth '94. "The recent upsurge in gourmet cooking and dining, along with the growing appreciation of locally produced and sustainable foods, made this a very timely idea."

Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods, the name of the company's new product line, distributes Butternut Squash Seed Oil. The company made its first sale to the executive chef of the governor's mansion in Albany, who was looking to add New York-produced ingredients to his menu.


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