Consumer preference is shifting toward plant-based meat substitutes perceived to be healthier for people and the planet. Meat analogs present an opportunity for food manufacturers, but they can be challenging to produce in order to deliver pleasing taste and texture.
Protein contributes to the overall properties (appearance, texture, mouthfeel, juiciness, etc.) of red meat, poultry and fish. Much of the functional characteristics of meat are due to its myofibrillar proteins. The unique properties of meat proteins cannot be easily replicated by any other native protein from plant sources. It is possible, however, using extrusion processing or a new technique called shear cell technology, along with creative formulations, to transform plant protein and create a product that imitates the appearance, texture, color and taste of real meat.
Plant-based proteins from soy, wheat and pea are popular ingredients used to resemble meat. Transforming these native proteinaceous materials to replicate the appearance and fibrous texture of meat requires the addition of other ingredients during processing. These make the product more appealing (colorant and flavor for desired appearance and taste) and aid in processing (lecithin to improved flow, pH adjustment to help in texturization, and calcium chloride to improve smoothness and textural integrity.) Last, an anti-oxidant would be added to extend shelf life.
Textured wheat and pea proteins processed with extrusion technology are MGP Ingredients’ solution for formulating plant-based meat analogs. These exhibit a meat-like fibrous structure with resilient texture, good hydration properties and bring neutral flavor to a finished food product.
Available in granules, chips and shreds in colored and uncolored versions to simulate poultry, seafood, pork or beef, MGP’s ProTerra textured proteins are easily hydrated and can assume the intended appearance, shape, texture and taste of plant-based burgers, patties, sausages, nuggets, and pulled pork or beef.
When it comes to textured wheat protein in granule form, no special processing like grinding or bowl chopping is necessary. The pre-hydrated granules are added to the other ingredients, mixed thoroughly and formed into the desired shape of the vegan, vegetarian or blended meat product. Chips are hydrated with approximately 2.5 parts water and allowed to soak for approximately 30-40 minutes. The shredded version of textured wheat protein does not require pre-hydration and can be incorporated directly to the rest of the ingredients and water, and it will automatically hydrate during the mixing step.
And textured wheat protein has important flavor-related attributes. Because of its neutral taste, it doesn’t require masking flavors and needs less seasoning. It “marinates” much like an animal-based protein, so incorporating savory and sweet-type flavors is easy to accomplish.
Food formulators wisely choose textured pea and wheat proteins for their meat-like qualities.
MGP Ingredients | www.mgpingredients.com