- Plant-based meat often looks real, but doesn’t have that real meaty taste
- Scientists claim that adding fermented onions can produce this sought-after aroma
From beetroot burgers to vegan ribs, imitation meat is becoming increasingly popular.
These plant-based alternatives often look real, but most still lack the real meaty flavor after cooking.
Now scientists at the University of Hohenheim believe they have the solution – even if it doesn’t sound particularly tempting.
They claim that adding fermented onions, chives or leeks to plant-based meat can produce the sought-after flavor.
“These onion ferments could one day be used as a natural flavoring in various plant-based meat alternatives,” the researchers said.
From beetroot burgers to vegan ribs, imitation meat is becoming increasingly popular. These plant-based alternatives often look real, but most still lack the real meaty taste after cooking (stock image)
Many plant-based meat manufacturers use synthetic additives to replicate the taste and aroma of the meat.
However, Because these flavors are produced through synthetic processes, many countries do not allow food manufacturers to label them as “natural.”
“To access a plant-based, ‘natural’ meat flavor, the flavor chemicals would need to be physically extracted from plants or biochemically created using enzymes, bacteria or fungi,” the team explained.
In their new study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers wanted to create a meaty taste using natural ingredients and processes.
The team tested a range of foods including chives, ginger, leeks, ramons, red peppers and yellow onions.
These were fermented with different types of mushrooms before the flavors were tested using chromatography-mass spectrometry.
The results showed that only foods from the Allium family – chives, leeks and yellow onions – produced meaty flavors.
It was found that the most fragrant sample came from an 18-hour fermentation of onions with the fungus Polyporus umbellatus
In particular, it was found that the most fragrant sample came from an 18-hour fermentation of onions with the fungus Polyporus umbellatus.
‘[This] “produced a fatty and meaty smell reminiscent of liver sausage,” the researchers said.
Upon closer inspection, the team found that the fermented onion had many of the same odor chemicals found in real meat.
For example, one chemical identified was bis(2-methyl-3-furyl) disulfide, a potent chemical found in meaty and savory foods.
The study will come shortly afterwards Experts at the University of Oxford have found that eating just 100g of meat per day – less than a single burger – produces four times more greenhouse gases compared to a vegan diet.
The researchers now want quick political action from the government and organizations to bring about a “dietary shift away from animal foods”.
Previous studies have suggested that avoiding a meat diet has health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease.
Not to mention plant-based burgers! Could lab-grown red meat save the environment?
Lab-grown meat is expected to become more ubiquitous this decade, moving from a niche concept to an everyday refrigerator staple.
Professor Mark Post from Maastricht University in the Netherlands introduced the world’s first lab-grown burger made from cow muscle cells in 2013.
He is now pioneering the production of beef with his company Mosa Meat, which made the world’s first hamburger without slaughtering an animal.
The company takes cells from the muscle of an animal, such as a cow, for beef when the animal is under anesthesia.
The cooked Mosa meat patty is similar to conventionally made beef burgers. The company says it tastes “like meat”
The cells are then placed in a dish containing nutrients and naturally occurring growth factors and allowed to multiply, like inside an animal, until they are present Trillions of cells from a small sample.
These cells later form muscle cells, which naturally fuse to form primitive muscle fibers and edible tissue.
From one sample of a cow, the company can create 800 million strands of muscle tissue, enough to make 80,000 quarter-pounders.
Mosa Meat has also created cultured fat that it adds to its tissues to form the finished product, which tastes simply “like meat,” according to the company.
Professor Post believes this product will be so popular with animal rights activists and burger fans alike that it will eventually displace plant-based substitutes such as soy burgers, which are becoming increasingly common in British supermarkets.
“Novel technologies such as those developed in cellular agriculture are part of the solution, alongside reducing food waste and changing consumer behavior,” Professor Post told MailOnline.
“A good example of a strong trend in consumer behavior is the unprecedented increase in vegetarianism among younger generations.”
“This trend will most likely continue and spread to other age groups, eventually leading to the disappearance of plant-based meat substitutes.”
Mosa Meat received $55 million in 2021 to increase cultured meat production.
The funding will help expand the company’s current pilot production facility in the Dutch city of Maastricht and develop an industrial-scale production line.