Chickpea isolate emerges as key ingredient for fermented plant-based cheese
24 Mar 2023 --- ChickP Protein’s patented chickpea isolate demonstrates its capacity to act as an multifaceted plant-based protein alternative for cheese analogs. The Israel-based food tech start-up has created chickpea-based cream cheese and firm cheddar cheese prototypes.
According to the company, the innovations match real dairy cheese in appearance, flavor and are highly nutritious.
ChickP’s formulations are touted for helping manufacturers fast-track the customization of plant-based cheese products that respond to consumers’ cravings for an authentic cheese experience.
The new cheese applications join the company’s expanding line of plant-based alternative prototypes, including egg-free mayonnaise, ice cream and chickpea-based barista coffee creamer, illustrating the functional versatility of ChickP’s ingredients.
Harnessing traditional fermentation in novel processes
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Liat Lachish Levy, CEO of ChickP, says for all producers of plant-based cheeses, taste, texture and the use of unwanted ingredients remain “significant challenges.”
“However, our isolated protein has unique functional properties that have allowed us to create a cheese with a texture similar to traditional dairy cheeses while also reducing the need for unwanted components,” he comments. “Our solution allows our customers to reduce the need for stabilizers and emulsifiers, resulting in a more label-friendly product.”
Levy explains how the company utilizes the same traditional fermentation process employed in dairies to achieve the rich and deep flavors characteristic of animal-milk cheeses.
“This approach has yielded excellent results in our plant-based cheese, delivering a delicious and authentic flavor.”
Maor Dahan, application manager, also tells us that during the development process, the company primarily focused on creating cream and cheddar cheese alternatives.
“However, we also discovered textures and flavors reminiscent of other cheese types, such as Kashkabal, Parmesan and even cottage cheese,” he continues. “This led us to realize the potential for developing a wider range of plant-based cheeses beyond our initial focus.”
It took ChickP approximately six months to develop its cheese applications, during which the company experimented with several prototypes. “These trials produced promising results that ultimately led to the development of our current recipes. We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this process and confident in the quality of our products,” underscores Dahan.
Breaking down food processing barriers
ChickP broke down the barriers to the perfect protein for creating a “no-compromise” cheese alternative.
The isolate embodies a 90% whole protein composition. The isolate also is clean label, with a neutral flavor, making it a highly versatile ingredient to work with.
ChickP’s cream cheese formulation combines the isolate with simple ingredients, such as water, coconut oil and starch. Its tangy cheese-like flavor is obtained via fermentation with lactic bacteria, just like the traditional milk-based process. As a cultured product, it is naturally replete with probiotic benefits.
“We insisted on applying only traditional processes for our winning cheese analogs,” explains Dahan. “Our formulas contain no stabilizers or gums. We explored a range of cultures to find the strains that work best with our formula. On top of that, the synergy between the chickpea isolates and starch helped create a rich, smooth, creamy textured spread on par with real dairy cream cheese.”
ChickP has also developed a chickpea-based firm cheese that delivers the bold, earthy flavor and chewy texture of cheddar cheese. It also is produced via fermentation to achieve the depth of flavor, firmness and natural probiotic benefits.
It works well on sandwiches, melts nicely on cheese toast and transforms into a cheesy sauce for creating an alfredo-style pasta or a vegan macaroni and cheese.
Currently, the company is developing analogs of other popular cheeses, such as Emmental, parmesan and mozzarella.
Global cravings for cheese
Cheese is an original comfort food, venerated as a savory, nutritious item enjoyed as a snack or as a key flavorful component of unlimited popular dishes.
The appetite for cheese has never shown signs of waning. According to a Smart Protein Project survey conducted in ten countries, cheese is the leading animal-based food product, with individual consumption averaging from one to six times per week.
The same report indicated a strong willingness to shift to plant-based versions but in conflict with an overall dissatisfaction with the taste, texture, and value of products currently on the market. Still, the demand for plant-based cheese is growing exponentially and is expected to attain a market value of US$7 billion by the end of 2030.
“Flexitarians dominate the consumer market for dairy alternatives,” adds Levy. “They are eager to eat vegan alternatives as long as those alternatives can level up to real dairy’s sensory and nutritional attributes. These are precisely the gaps the industry is striving to close.
While some cheese analog producers succeed on the sensory points, this often comes at the expense of the desired nutritional balance – and vice versa.”
By Elizabeth Green
To contact our editorial team please email us at email@example.com
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.