Mush Foods’ 50CUT mycelium protein packs a low-fat umami punch in hybrid meats
21 Feb 2023 --- Start-up Mush Foods has developed a mycelium protein ingredient solution that enhances umami flavor in the latest cuts of hybrid alternative beef to cater to flexitarian consumer demands. The offering blends three types of edible mushroom mycelium species that when mixed with beef functions as a taste enhancer and reduces cholesterol and fat content.
“This innovative advancement produces a mycelium with added nutritional value, including boosted protein, vitamins, beta-glucans and more,” Shalom Daniel, co-founder and CEO of Mush Foods, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“In addition, Mush Foods uses multiple mycelium strains to create the best customized match to complement the particular color, taste, aroma and texture of each kind of animal meat.”
“Most companies cultivating mycelium employ liquid fermentation in bioreactors, a high-cost process most suitable for expensive niche products. In contrast, Mush Foods’ scalable and cost-efficient indoor farming method employs a proprietary substrate made from upcycled food and agricultural waste,” Daniel outlines.
Soaking up flavor
The producer, a portfolio company of the Strauss Group Kitchen FoodTech Hub, developed 50CUT utilizing mycelium – a network of thread and root-like underground systems of fungi that breaks down forest plant matter and nourishes the mushrooms growing above ground and the surrounding ecosystem.
Mush Foods’ pioneering proprietary technology for upcycling food side streams from local manufacturers was initially developed at the MIGAL Galilee Research Institute, in Israel.
“The mycelium blend softens the meat, creating a delightful mouthfeel for an enhanced culinary experience. At the same time, the addition of mycelium also makes the meat easier on digestion, significantly reducing feelings of post-meal heaviness,” Daniel explains.
“Finally, these benefits do not come at the expense of nutrition and wellness. On the contrary, 50CUT hybrid meat significantly reduces the cholesterol and saturated fat content.”
Mush Foods’ mycelium completely blends with meat lending its natural umami taste to the animal protein. It also absorbs the meat’s flavor and moisture for added juiciness.AAll
The company’s fermentation platform recreates underground growth conditions without light and uses minimal land, energy, and water. After harvesting, they produce the mycelium naturally, with gentle preparation and shaping, reducing the liquid to create a final clean-label product that contains no additional ingredients, binders, additives or flavorings.
Various mycelia have been combined to create an ingredient that pairs with the particular taste, formability, texture, aroma and color of beef.
Acceptance of hybrid meats
In a November 2022 pilot study of 4,000 participating employees from various financial institutions in New York, US, Mush Foods’ 50CUT hybrid beef and mycelium burger scored the highest of 11 main dish options.
“The encouraging results reflect a consumer demand for this kind of alternative,” adds Daniel.
“Chefs value Mush Foods’ mycelium for both its taste and its functionality. For instance, mycelium retains juices over a period of time, minimizing messy deliveries. In addition, just like meat, 50CUT products do not shrink when cooked, creating a perfectly uniform product and maintaining the meat’s original appearance,” Daniel explains.
The volume of the “ground meat” matrix is maintained when formulating with mycelium by absorbing the meat juices, which further preserves flavor, cutting out the need for fillers such as texturized proteins.
Mycelium is a whole protein containing essential amino acids. It is rich in fiber and vitamins, has no saturated fat or cholesterol, and is a natural binder. Mycelium has a natural umami flavor similar to meat, eliminating the need for masking agents or added flavors.
Mush Foods will feature at the Future Food Tech event in San Francisco in March 2023. Levanon will participate in a panel discussion and 50CUT products will be available for tasting.
In related industry news, Meati Foods opened a new industrial-scale facility in Colorado to expand the production of mycelium-based protein cultivation after raising US$150 million in a Series C funding round. The “Mega Ranch” is expected to produce millions of pounds of the product by late 2023.
In addition, 70/30 Food Tech, a Shanghai-based alternative protein firm, introduced ready-meal items based on its in-house biomass-fermented protein. This protein is a meat substitute based on mycelium, which has shredded chicken’s texture and nutritional profile.
Meanwhile, Bosque Foods (formerly Kinoko Labs) unveiled its whole-cut mushroom-based meat alternatives for the first time in Europe during a private tasting at the ProVeg Incubator in Berlin. The sampled products included alt-pork filets in Vietnamese bao buns and alt-chicken filets.
By Inga de Jong
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