It is simply amazing how many products count on some part of the cotton plant to make them complete. For example, cotton linters are used to help give ice cream body and are also used to make hot dog casings. From the shells that form some bath tubs to that highly-recognized green and red sign hanging over the door of Chili’s Restaurants around the country, cottonseed, cotton linters, cotton burs and practically all parts of the cotton plant are put to use in a myriad of ways.
Tom Wedegaertner is Cotton Incorporated’s Director of Cottonseed Research & Marketing. Most cotton farmers have seen Tom speak or have read about the work he’s been doing for more than 20 years to improve the use of cottonseed and cotton by-products.
Although he’s not one to gloat, his diligent work through the years marketing cottonseed to the dairy industry as an invaluable feed supplement has played a key role in supporting the increased use of cottonseed.
In 2010, The Cotton Board and Cotton Incorporated held joint board meetings in Portland, Ore. – home to The Food Innovation Center (FIC) at Oregon State University. At the meeting, Wedegaertner’s cooperating partners at FIC showcased a wide range of food and snack products all made from cottonseed. Reactions from Board members who tasted the treats were very positive.
“We had everything from hummus and high-energy bars to tabouli,” says Wedegaertner.
The latest culinary test creation from Wedegaertner and the FIC are flavored glandless cottonseed kernel salad toppers.
“Last year, researchers at the New Mexico State University Experiment Station grew a few acres of glandless cotton,” he says. “This is where the edible cottonseed came from that is now being used to create these salad toppers.”
The FIC staff and Wedegaertner are also preparing other topper flavors for use on foods like pasta and ice cream. The products will hopefully appeal to a wide range of people and ultimately demonstrate the versatility of edible cottonseed kernels, especially to consumers who want to add flavor, protein and nutrition to meatless dishes.
“The overriding goal of this project and other Cotton Incorporated projects similar to this is to continue positioning cotton as a food plant as well as a plant that yields fiber,” concludes Wedegaertner.
The Cotton Board, which administers Cotton Incorporated’s Research and Promotion Program, contributed information for this article.