In the past, plant-based meat and sausage alternatives were only available in specific certified organic shops. Today, you can find them in any supermarket.
Vegetarian and vegan alternatives now achieve a steady turnover, and products are continuously optimised and reformulated.
Various raw materials like soy, pea and wheat are used for innovative, meat-free products to complement the wide choice of meat alternatives – from sausages and cold cuts to nuggets and burgers.
These days most people care about their nutrition. They read the ingredient list and compare nutritional profiles of food products. So why not add healthy dietary fibres to a vegetarian or vegan meat alternative in order to add more value to the product?
Fibre enrichment boosts the nutritional profile and contributes to making the product healthier and more attractive, even to non-vegetarians.
The so-called flexitarian – who sometimes eats meat, but more often tries to avoid it – is also looking for meat alternatives. However, flexitarian consumers are seeking the same culinary pleasure they get from eating real meat.
The challenge here is to satisfy the flexitarian diet with products that are as similar as possible to real meat products. Therefore, some elements should mimic real meat (such as bite, flavour and colour).
German manufacturer of natural fibres from sustainable raw materials, CFF, offers tailor-made Sanacel® dietary fibre solutions for natural fortification.
Sanacel® acts in different ways to improve the consistency and processability of meatless products. The fibres help to imitate the meat structure and lead to a better bite
Improving properties of vegan nuggets
Simple applications for plant-based Sanacel® fibre blends are vegan chicken products.
CFF’s technologists tested several proteins from soy or pea, as well as chickpea flour. Soy protein is one of the rare plant-based proteins that correspond to a wholefood diet because of the beneficial amino acid profile. The high content of essential amino acids (35-40%) makes it more comparable to a chicken egg.
However, the tests found differences in colour before and after frying, proving that colour is influenced by the protein and not by the fibres.
Several tests showed that the perfect time to add Sanacel® fibre was at the end of the cutting process in the bowl chopper. The late addition allows the fibres to bind with excess oil or water and prevent the product to become dry in the raw condition.
The fibres also have the capacity to absorb the water that escapes during frying, thus ensuring a juicy mouthfeel.
For easy handling, the fibres can be mixed with dry ingredients. Water and oil can be added afterwards. This compound must be chopped and shaped into a homogenous mass and the final grit size is reached. The cutter process influences how fine or coarse the product becomes.
In our case, chickpea flour achieved the best result for chicken nuggets. Furthermore, dietary fibres influenced juiciness in the final product. Due to the functional characteristics of Sanacel®, it is possible to increase the water content and thus obtain a juicier product.
The cutter process influences how fine or coarse the product should become. The left image shows a vegan chicken patty; the right shows a vegan chicken nugget, both made with Sanacel®
Healthy nutrition and the issue of animal welfare are becoming more present and play an increasingly important role in consumers’ food choices. Many meat consumers are therefore considering vegetarian and vegan meat alternatives.
Now is a good time to join the meat alternatives trend. Sanacel® fibre concentrates offer the possibility to continuously improve these products on a natural basis. Colour, texture and bite can be adjusted so that vegan meat alternatives rival their meaty counterparts.
For 40 years, CFF has been motivated by the remarkable and diverse application of cellulose fibres. In the past and today, it is the engine for the development and manufacturing of functional fibre product Sanacel®, which is created from natural and biodegradable raw materials. CFF’s products are eco-friendly and remain in the natural cycle – from nature, back to nature.
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