MycoTechnology unveils texturized fermented vegetable protein for plant based meat applications

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

PureTaste is a proprietary blend of pea and rice protein fermented with Shiitake mycelia (roots) to improve flavor, functionality, bioavailability, and nutrition. (Picture: Mushroom-mycelium: GettyImages-kichigin)
PureTaste is a proprietary blend of pea and rice protein fermented with Shiitake mycelia (roots) to improve flavor, functionality, bioavailability, and nutrition. (Picture: Mushroom-mycelium: GettyImages-kichigin)

Related tags plant-based protein MycoTechnology mycelium plant-based meat

As the race to expand protein options for plant-based meats heats up, Colorado-based MycoTechnology has thrown its hat into the ring with a texturized version of PureTaste, a vegetable protein produced via the fermentation of pea and rice proteins with Shiitake mushroom mycelium (roots).

PureTaste​, which contains 77% complete protein by dry weight - which customers have variously listed on food labels as 'Shiitake Fermented Pea and Rice Protein' or 'Fermented Pea and Rice Protein' - offers plant-based meat formulators new options beyond soy and wheat, said MycoTechnology​ senior director of marketing Josh Hahn.

The extruded PureTaste protein also performs better than just blending pea and rice protein that hasn't been through the fermentation process, delivering improved taste and greater oil and water-holding capacity, enabling firms to create juicier burgers (and use less TVP) he told FoodNavigator-USA.

“We're working with some of the biggest companies in the world and you'll probably see meat analogs on the market made with PureTaste sooner than you'd expect.

"Everyone we've spoken with says this has better taste and texture and it holds up better than soy and pea," ​said Hahn, who will be showcasing products featuring the texturized protein at the Supply Side West trade show in Las Vegas on October 15-19 (booth #3121).

"One of the unique aspects is that it can hold and retain so much water, so while it's a premium ingredient, you can get cost parity with pea protein or even a little bit less because of that functionality ​[you can use a bit less]."

Fermentation process reduces off notes and improves functionality of pea and rice protein

Combining pea and rice proteins creates a balanced amino acid profile, while fermenting them with mushroom mycelium reduces their off tastes and aromas, improves their solubility (which improves texture, dispersibility, and increases stability in suspension) reduces chalkiness and grittiness, and boosts their oil- and water-holding capacity, said Hahn.

The latter two qualities make PureTaste particularly appealing to formulators of plant-based burgers, meatballs and other products that consumers expect to be ‘juicy,’ he noted.

GRAS determination

Unlike some other proteins manufactured in tanks via a fermentation process, PureTaste does not use genetically engineered yeasts or other micro-organisms, but uses naturally occurring mycelium from an heirloom variety of Shiitake mushroom, noted Hahn.

“We've put together a GRAS determination​​ [MycoTech convened a panel of experts who determined that PureTaste is safe] and we've submitted that to the FDA. We're still waiting for their response and hope to have it ​[a no questions letter] by the end of the year."

[Editor's note​: In a letter​ sent to Mycotechnology responding to its GRAS notfication last year, the FDA recommended that the company meet with officials before re-filing: "The notice lacks sufficient information about the identity of the notified substance; the notice does not clearly describe the manufacturing process of the substance; and the notice does not provide a sufficient narrative about the safety of consumption of the shiitake mycelia and the notified substance."​]

Labeling: ‘Fermented vegetable protein’

As PureTaste has a PDCAAS score of 1.00 - and also contains vitamin B12, which is sought-after by many vegans and vegetarians – its nutritional profile has attracted a lot of interest from companies looking to formulate with plant-based proteins, said Hahn.

According to Hahn, PureTaste can be included in products making ‘plant-based protein’ claims given that for regulatory purposes, the FDA considers mushrooms to be plants (although they are technically fungi).

PureTaste - which has been tested in everything from extruded grain-based products, breads, and beverages to sauces, cereals and processed meats - is also generating interest from companies looking to develop non-dairy ice creams, milks and yogurts with a stronger nutritional profile, a creamy mouthfeel and a cleaner taste with less sugar, he claimed.

mushroom diagram-Shane Mulholland-forestorganics68
Picture: Shane Mulholland-forestorganics68

PureTaste Protein​​ is derived from the fermentation of plant based protein feedstock with the mycelium of Shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes​​​) in an aqueous environment.  

When sufficient quantities of protein have been manufactured – the process takes just 48 hours from culture to harvest - the whole mixture is harvested and then spray-dried into a fine, neutral colored and tasting powder with 77% protein that’s low in calories, fat and carbohydrates, and packed with vitamins and minerals that cannot be found in other competitive proteins, claims MycoTechnology.

The protein – which is free from the ‘big 8’ allergens - has all nine essential and 11 non-essential amino acids.  

“The mycelium excrete enzymes and metabolites that break down the pea and rice protein strands and make them more bioavailable so your body can digest the amino acids,” ​​explained MycoTech CEO Alan Hahn.

PureTaste-protein solubility
PureTaste protein solubility
PureTaste-protein comparison

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