Solar Foods’ protein from thin air debuts in Singapore as chefs create novel menu
25 May 2023 --- Solein – the sustainable protein developed by Finnish food tech company Solar Foods – is being tasted today for the very first time in Singapore. This landmark moment for the F&B industry is being slated as a historical day that will showcase the potential of this novel protein which has been grown out of thin air.
The first commercial-scale production facility of Solein, Factory 01, will open in 2024 in Finland and begin producing novel protein to be used across several different applications.
With the expanded capacity, Solar Foods expects the production cost of Solein to drop significantly. Factory 01 will scale Solein production to a level that can be brought to market for the first time and the company plans to expand its network of production facilities in the coming years.
Solein received its first novel food regulatory approval in Singapore in September 2022. At the time, Solar Foods CEO and partner Pasi Vainikka compared the moment to when the Spanish first encountered the potato in the 16th century.
“This is the first time humankind can be provided with edible calories that at no point require photosynthesis. So far, photosynthetic plants have been the only feasible way to receive energy from the sun to feed humankind. Now, this process can be bypassed in its entirety. That’s a historic moment. A new era begins in the primary production of food and restoring biodiversity,” Vainikka says.
Impacting sustainability, food industry and familiar dishes
Solar Foods says Solein is the world’s most sustainable protein. It is grown not from soil but with CO2 and electricity in a bioprocess. It is a unique farm-free way of growing an all-purpose ingredient capable of replacing animal- or plant-based protein.
The company underscores that Solein holds the most potential of any new food to revolutionize food production and free the planet from industrial agriculture.
The Solar Foods team has worked diligently to ensure that Solein is sustainable and a highly functional, nutritious and versatile ingredient.
Solein can replace meat or plant proteins in everyday foods as it can be used as a structure-forming and nutritional ingredient that doesn’t disrupt the tastes of familiar foods.
Taste is an integral component of any ingredient, and Solein has a “delicately unique flavor with a pleasant note of umami.” According to the company, it blends into foods enriching the original flavors.
“Food is very personal, we are attached to our favorite foods and their tastes. We want Solein to let those familiar tastes shine, not take their place. The future can taste like anything we want it to taste,” Vainikka envisions.
A historical menu for a new era
Solar Foods is collaborating with hospitality company, The Lo & Behold Group, for the tasting in Singapore. The tasting event is being held in the group’s most recently launched restaurant Fico.
The menu for the tasting was created with Oliver Truesdale Jutras as the leading chef.
The team was free to use the novel ingredient to create the menu. They got to discover cooking methods for Solein and use their creativity to create dishes that embody what the future might taste like.
The menu offers a look into the versatility and functionality of Solein. When Michelin-starred chefs find ways to make the most of it, it strongly signals that the ingredient can also work well with everyday food products.
The final menu gives a glimpse into a future where tastes are familiar, but the path that food crosses to arrive on our plate might differ entirely from today.
“We cooked with Solein and a lot of local ingredients. It was exciting because we got to play with flavors familiar to Singaporean cuisine but simultaneously experiment and introduce Solein as something entirely new, wild, and never seen anywhere,” says chef Oliver.
“The breadth of Solein alleviates the challenges of traditional agriculture as it can be used in everyday foods. It could even help with nourishment needs in disaster-stricken areas. Not many ingredients can bridge this gap.”
What is Solein?
Solein is a microbial protein-rich powder that contains all the essential amino acids. It can replace existing proteins in various foods, for example, in alternative dairy and meat, different snacks and beverages, noodles and pasta, or breads and spreads. It is the first ever novel food disconnected from the limits of traditional agriculture.
This type of production method can transform the sustainability, availability and transparency of what we eat and where food can be produced.
Solein is produced using a bioprocess, where microbes are fed with gases (carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and oxygen) and small amounts of nutrients. The bioprocess resembles winemaking, with carbon dioxide and hydrogen replacing sugar as the carbon and energy source, respectively.
Solein is 65% to 70% protein, 5% to 8% fat, 10% to 15% dietary fibers and 3% to 5% mineral nutrients. The macronutrient composition of Solein cells is very similar to that of dried soy or algae.
Solein also provides iron and B vitamins and is exceptionally functional. Solein can be used with a wide variety of other ingredients: it vanishes into foods and doesn’t change the taste of familiar, everyday food products, says Solar Foods.
Edited by Elizabeth Green
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