Today’s Solutions: November 29, 2021

Looking to find a use for an invasive weed species that’s both a threat to native fauna and a nuisance to farmers, Russian scientists have discovered that the extract of the pesky Bidens pilosa, also known as “hairy beggarticks”, is a promising source of enzymes helpful to the wine and cheese-making process.

It turns out that the leaf extract from the invasive flower is pretty effective at breaking down proteins, showing great potential as an ingredient for the food processing industry, according to researchers from South Ural State University.

Most notably, the leaf extract contains the enzymes helpful to the wine and cheese-making process, accelerating fermentation and thus offering a vegan substitute to the expensive enzymes currently used in the food industry.

“There is a long tradition of using Bidens pilosa as a medicine,” said Irina Porotoko, co-author of the study. “Due to its prevalence, its use, in our opinion, is extremely beneficial in winemaking and milk processing, where the Bidens pilosa extract can become an alternative to many food animal enzymes.”

Going forward, the scientists want to break down even more parts of the plant, which originated in the US but spread throughout the world as an invasive weed. In this particular study, the researchers only looked at enzymes from the plant’s leaves — but stems, roots, and flowers might make for an even better wine and cheese night.

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