It looks, tastes and bleeds like meat – but does it pass the vegetarian test?
It took Dr Pat Brown and his team six years to create an “uncompromisingly delicious” meat from plant-based materials, reports Newsweek, and things are going well for his company, Impossible Foods.
Last year, the team debuted their Impossible Burger and now, Impossible Foods announced its first partnership with a chain restaurant, Bareburger:
Bruce Friedrich, executive director of the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit that promotes sustainable foods, says Impossible Foods is one of two companies creating plant-based burgers that taste like meat.
While veggie burgers have been around for decades, these sustainable food companies want to create meatless burgers that compete in the meat world, he explains.
“What Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods did was say, ‘Look, meat is made up of lipids and amino acids and minerals and water. There is nothing in meat that we cannot make from everything in plants.’”
But just how does one make such a thing? Ashley Kleckner, Impossible Foods’ director of marketing, ran a demo at Barebuger’s flagship outlet:
The first step is to extract wheat and potato proteins that give the burger “that meaty chew.”
Then comes the flavour: Heme, a chemical compound that exists in every living thing, is cooked with amino acids and sugar.
Binders (xanthan mixed with konjac) hold the mixture together so it can be formed into patties.
The last step is adding a little bit of soy and fat from coconut oil (deodorized so the burger doesn’t taste like coconut). This fat makes the burger sizzle as it cooks.
That damn coconut oil, hey, always making an appearance.
But, like, are they any good?
Well, J. Kenji López-Alt, managing culinary director of Serious Eats, has taken a bite out of the burger and told us what’s up:
“These things are a big step up from previous faux-meat burgers, though they still have a way to go before they’re going to fool anyone who eats meat critically on a regular basis,” he says.
“Tasted on their own, they have their problems, but served the right way—cooked and topped—they become more successful.”
Fair enough. At least tomato sauce is the greatest disguise for failed foods.
Other than beef, Impossible Foods has tested prototypes of “pork, chicken, fish and dairy products and hopes to produce plant-based alternatives to these foods too”.
Personally, I am happy with my burger made of pure ground beef, thanks.
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