Stevia without the liquorice aftertaste, or chocolate and coffee without the bitterness, have long been goals in the industry, and ‘young kid on the block’ MycoTech Corp in the US is now offering the solutions to just these products.
Although its chief scientific officer has been working on the technologies for over 30 years, MycoTech Corp was established only 18 months ago with the mission to provide solutions to remove taste defects from products rather than mask them.
“We’re all about an organic approach to transforming foods,” said Alan Hahn, founder and CEO, MycoTech Corp, which is already in global discussions with some of the biggest names in the industry for its first technology MycoSmooth.
By fermenting dense products such as cocoa and coffee with strains of its proprietary fungi, MycoTech is able to remove the bitter compounds to give a better tasting end product.
“We have identified the molecules that cause bitterness – such as 2-furanmethanol in coffee or catechins in chocolate – and use our MycoSmooth process to remove them or greatly reduce them,” said Hahn. “You don’t want to remove all the bitterness necessarily, because you need some complexity, so we’ve adjusted our process to create something that is really enjoyable.”
Reducing the bitterness in stevia, however, is a different matter. For one, it’s a less dense product, and, critically, the molecule that causes the bitterness is the same as the one that imparts the sweetness.
Here is where over the past 12 months, MycoTech has employed its extensive know-how to perfect its new MycoZyme technology, which it plans to launch at SupplySide West on 6 October 2014. MycoZyme, in contrast to MycoSmooth requires no fermentation. Instead, it’s an enzyme technology that can be incorporated at any stage of the stevia production process.
“Unlike MycoSmooth, MycoZyme works on less dense products, powders, leaves and extracts, and has a different approach,” said Hahn. “We use an enzyme derived from the mycilium or root system of fungi, to produce a much faster process that takes just six hours, whereas the MycoSmooth fermentation process can take from seven to 21 days for coffee and chocolate respectively.
“For MycoZyme, manufacturers do not need fermentation tanks and the requirement for equipment should be virtually zero; all should be in place as part of the stevia production process. The only thing that’s needed is the tank or vat to support the enzymes, which can be added at any stage during the stevia production process, and thereafter it’s a matter of controlling the temperature, pressure and time to achieve the best results.
“We’re now working with six of the top 10 stevia players in the market and processing their products using MycoZyme.”
Hahn confirmed that MycoTech is also talking directly to key food and beverage manufacturers who are testing MycoTech’s stevia in their products: “I can’t imagine that beverage companies will opt to buy direct from us,” he said, “but rather continue to buy from those preferred suppliers that have adopted our enzyme process.”
According to Hahn, exciting commercial discussions are ongoing in Europe and the US. It looks likely to be just a question of time before the first coffee, chocolate or stevia products are seen on the market with no bitterness and without any masking ingredients.
In the meantime, MycoTech is continuing to expand its natural approach to flavour improvement by turning its sights on to the removal of bitterness from whey protein, so watch this space.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2018