TOP’s new fat platform for plant-based foods: structuring vegetable fat
After years of internal research and constant experimenting TOP has developed a technology platform to closely mimic animal fat tissue. The texture and mouthfeel of a piece of meat is not only determined by the muscle tissue in the meat, but also by other tissues such as connective- and fat tissue. The only way to develop a really tasty meat-like substitute, demanded identifying the key aspects of these tissues and mimicking them as closely as possible using plant-based ingredients.
Real animal fat is trapped in a collagen matrix in the connective tissue, which keeps the meat juicy, even when being cooked. Most meat substitutes available in the supermarkets today, contain granules of solid coconut oil and / or palm oil. This gives the meat analogue a similar look in the package, but during preparation differences become paramount: These fat granules melt completely during preparation, leaving a lot of liquid fat in the pan, but yielding a product with a dryer texture and mouthfeel than real meat for the consumer.
A platform for vegetable fat
With the novel technology platform TOP has developed, a wide variety of fat textures can be created. Using different vegetable fats with different melting curves, textures ranging from a soft cheesy structure to a hard beef fat-like structure, and anything in between, can be created. The melting curves and the baking behavior obtained will then be comparable to the animal archetypes. The technology platform is therefore judged as being widely applicable in all kinds of plant-based food products: from cheese substitutes and vegetarian burgers to larger pieces of ‘whole-muscle analogues’.
Although the platform is still being developed, it already shows promising results on a small scale. That is why TOP has filed a patent application for the platform and together with several partners, TOP is now working on upscaling production to commerical scale.