Illustration by Maja Stenstam.
Together with two different companies, we have tried to push the boundary of how much protein can be in a food product with retained texture and taste.
Some products need to be protein-boosted. One reason is the situation when they are to be consumed, for example post operatively, post work out or as MREs. Another reason is to simply (no it will not be simple) get a higher and better protein availability from some purely vegan food products, since they tend to be on the lower side.
With the two companies, we worked in similar ways. For both, texture was critical and for one, taste masking was also needed since the very high levels of protein were good for body while not so for taste buds… Taste masking is fun for the CR team and we do love ginger and lemon and feel sorry for the non-Nordic people not enjoying raspberry-salt liquorice… Taste masking is however less of a colloidal adventure and at CR we like the texture challenge due to the structure-hydration-rheology connection.
For one of our clients, the goal was a very specific texture: the one of fish. Or more precise to retain it, since the client had done a remarkable job themselves by getting there, using nothing fishy at all. The company, Nothing F!shy, has a great vegan product on the market which they want to pair with one higher in protein content.
Starting from the perfect ratio of ingredients and adding one will never work. Thus, CR endeavoured to understand what control this balance and what ingredient could be used to maintain it also when the protein content is enhanced. We learned where to expect the boundary for watery as well as stringy and grainy, and we hope this provides our client a platform from which to continue to create.
In both projects, we got to be chemists and consumers, to use expertise and experience. None of us are chefs but together with good ones, we get to develop an area that is extremely interesting and important. And, we invested in a lab-fridge-for-food as well as a couple of food mixers so bring those challenges on!