The secret behind delicious fake meats? Breed better beans | MarketingwithAnoy

But this is only part of the process – what is the point of developing new crops if they taste worse than what is already on the market? “We have an in-house tasting panel that tastes our products on a weekly basis,” said Sigal Meirovitch, senior director and head of R&D at Equinom, an Israeli company that also focused on improving crops for use in plant-based alternatives to animal products. Unlike Benson Hill, Equinom has so far focused mainly on the yellow pea.

“Once we have seen the results, we send the more successful varieties to an external taste panel, which verifies and validates the results,” says Meirovitch. Testing involves comparing the crops the team has grown with other varieties that are on the market. Equinom started by comparing flour made from its peas with other commercially available pea flours. The company then used these various peas to create plant-based ice creams and taste tested these as well. From preliminary studies, Meirovitch says people consistently prefer ice cream made from the company’s yellow pea protein. In parallel with human experiments with the products, Meirovitch adds that the team makes stricter chemical analyzes by using an electric nose that, like a kind of high-tech dog, can sniff out the aromas they look – or do not look like. to. The goal is a neutral aroma that eliminates the need to cover any off-flavors.

There are a few main arguments in favor of high-protein varieties of crops. One is that higher protein content changes the chemical composition of the crop in question, a process that will change the taste by default. Cut to its simplest form, taste is our tongues that respond to chemical stimuli.

Another is that crop processing can add salty, metallic or artificial residual flavors, and with high-protein variants, there is less need to process. Youling Xiong, a professor of food science at the University of Kentucky, says that processing can certainly affect taste when producing a protein isolate or concentrate, which are the products of these crops used to make meat alternatives.

But Gary Reineccius, a professor at the University of Minnesota who researches taste, is skeptical of the processing argument, saying that unwanted off-flavors do not come from processing but are inherent. As a plant grows, the chemical processes it undergoes create by-products – “small molecules that do not taste as good,” he says. “So even if you can make a plant source with a really high protein content, there will still be some off-flavors.”

Xiong agrees that off-taste may also be due to biological molecules found in plants. But when it comes to creating plant-based meat alternatives, he believes that taste is not the most important thing – what is crucial is to recreate the mouthfeel of animal products, like the juiciness of a burger. Exploring other crops could be a great way to find better flavors and textures, he says. “We should not limit our imagination to just a few traditional proteins – we should explore everything possible.”

He points to the mung bean as an example and says that it has a mild taste and interesting properties, such as its ability to form a gel. The food company Eat Just has successfully created a plant-based egg alternative using mung beans, which has been on the market since 2018. Other companies like Mikuna – which produces edible plant protein – are trying to introduce alternative crops, like the Andean lupine, into our diets.

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