Meat production is complicated, costly and not eco-friendly: fatted animals have to consume five to eight kilos of grain just to generate one kilogram of meat. It would be simpler and more sustainable if one were to make cutlets out of seed – without the detour through the animal‘s body. Impossible?
Not entirely: there are plants that are suitable for the production of meat substitute products. Researchers in the EU-project “LikeMeat” have studied what they are, and how they can be incorporated into a product that tastes and looks like meat. “Studies have shown that many Europeans are ready to give up meat, but there have only been a handful of alternatives until now,“ explains Florian Wild.
The researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Freising is spearheading the project. “Our goal is to develop a vegetable surrogate for meat that is both juicy and fibrous, but that also has a pleasant flavor. The product should have a long shelf life, it should not be more expensive than meat, and be suitable for vegetarians and allergy sufferers.“
In addition to the scientists at IVV, experts from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) are also participating in the development, as are consumer researchers from the University of Wageningen, in the Netherlands, and eleven small to medium-sized corporations that manufacture or do business in food or food ingredients. The team roster also includes two Austrian and one Dutch company that have hitherto only processed meat, as well as an organic food producer from Spain.
“As a group, we are seeking to engineer a simple production chain in which pure vegetable raw materials are used to produce a meat substitute that corresponds to consumer preferences,“ as Wild summarizes it. The ingredients originate from the land: Wheat and peas, lupins and soya are all suited for production, explains Wild: “We are intentionally not tying ourselves down to one type of plant because many people get an allergic reaction to the one or other substance. In the process, we have developed a variety of recipes. They are the basis for a product spectrum that offers a broad selection to people who suffer food intolerance or allergies.“
But how do you turn a field crop into meat? “The processing technology was the biggest challenge,“ recalls the project manager. The previously conventional methods of mixing plant proteins with a little water, and heating them under high pressure, proved to be useless: With this hot extrusion process, the mass is heated up under high pressure. At the moment when it pushes through the die, the temperature drops dramatically, steam is released and the mass foams up. That is certainly the desired effect when making peanut flips. But not in the production of meat substitutes. Wild and his colleagues use a new process specially developed for meat substitutes: The main ingredients – water and plant proteins – are brought to a boil and slowly cooled down. Since no sudden release of pressure takes place, no steam blows out of the paste. As the temperature sinks, the protein molecules start to form chains. This gives rise to a fibrous structure that is quite similar to that of meat.
The prototype of the new vegetarian cutlet factory is currently located in the IVV laboratory. The system is no larger than two table tennis tables. On request, it can produce one endless piece of meat approximately 1-cm thick that can be shaped as desired, for example into little morsels for diced or thinly-sliced meats, or entire cutlets. The research team is currently able to produce 60 to 70 kilos of the meat substitute per hour – or 300 to 500 kilos per day. “Consistency and texture are already superb,“ Wild assures. There is still a little work to do on the flavor. By the end of the project term, in one year, the meat substitute from the land should be every bit as good as a genuine cutlet, and it should come directly from the machine, ready-to-eat. The experts will present their new product at the Anuga FoodTec trade fair from March 27 through March 30 in Cologne.
Florian Wild | Fraunhofer Research News
Application offensive for ultrafast lasers in the kW range
15.05.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
Fusible and printable elastomer sensors for e-textiles
13.05.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Silicatforschung ISC
Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...
With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.
Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...
'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.
However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...
Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future
When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...
Scientists develop a molecular recording tool that enables in vivo lineage tracing of embryonic cells
The beginning of new life starts with a fascinating process: A single cell gives rise to progenitor cells that eventually differentiate into the three germ...
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
21.05.2019 | Materials Sciences
21.05.2019 | Materials Sciences
21.05.2019 | Life Sciences