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Meat flavourings from brassica may offer veggie options

By Stephen Daniells , 26-Oct-2009

Enzyme treatment of Brassica proteins may give meat-like flavourings, allowing meat taste in vegetarian foods, suggests a new Chinese-Australian study.

Temperatures in the range of 100 and 120 Celsius led to products being described as having a cooked meat flavour, while around 140 Celsius led to products that had the aroma of roasted meat, according to findings published in Food Chemistry.

“The enzymatic hydrolysates of Brassica sp. protein can be used as the primary ingredient for the production of thermal processing flavours which have meat-like characteristics when evaluated by a sensory panel,” wrote the researchers from Henan University of Technology in China and RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

The trend towards meat flavours that taste as closely as possible to specific cuts has quickened over the last year with both Givaudan and IFF launching natural meat flavour ranges, including chicken, beef and pork flavours.

The flavourings can then be used in stocks, soups, sauces, snacks, ready meals and meat-free meals.

Givaudan’s range was devised after the development of gold standard recipes for different cuts of meat and different cooking styles, such as poached chicken breast, grilled entrecote, oven-roast pork, and slow-cooked beef casserole.

This was preceded by the launch of a range of chicken flavours by rival International Flavours and Fragrances (IFF) in August 2008.

Enzymes, heat and pH

The Chinese and Australian researchers prepared proteins from Brassica sp. using an alkaline extraction followed by acid precipitation. This was followed by a double-enzyme hydrolysis using Genencor’s As1.398 protease and Novozyme’s Flavourzyme. The hydrolysates were then used to produce meat-like flavourings by varying the pH and temperature.

“The results indicated that temperature and pH influenced not only the number but also the amount of products,” said the researchers. “The formation of meat aroma compound was favoured under lower pH conditions; and at low temperatures the aroma was similar to that of cooked meat and at higher temperatures it was like roasted meat,” they added.

The best results noted for flavours produced at 160 Celsius and pH 4.0. At 180 Celsius and pH 8.0, however, the tasters noted a burnt odour.

“Most of the compounds found in the reaction products are known to occur naturally in foods and food flavourings,” wrote the researchers. “Thus the profiles of flavour compounds produced from Brassica protein hydrolysates using the reaction system optimised in the current study were similar to those that might have been expected.”

Exter range

The trend towards natural meat flavours is not just dominated by the big boys in the market. Earlier this year Dutch flavour firm Exter Aroma, which targets smaller firms, introduced five new flavours that meat clean label demands: meat, roasted beef, chicken, roasted chicken, and boiled chicken.

Lambert ten Haaf, the company's director of sales and marketing, told FoodNavigator.com that it developed the new range using a traditional food preparation process. The products are processed in big ovens, at temperatures of between 72 and 100 degrees centigrade.

Source: Food Chemistry
Volume 119, Issue 1, Pages 167-172
“Generation of meat-like flavourings from enzymatic hydrolysates of proteins from Brassica sp.”
Authors: X. Guo, S. Tian, D.M. Small

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