Germany’s government has invested $780,000 in a research project that examines ways to produce vegan meat with a more meat-like texture. The project, called “Texturing Mechanisms in the Wet Extrusion of Soy and Pea Protein,” allows researchers at Germany’s TU Berlin and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) to innovate plant-based meat production methods. Currently, the food industry uses an extrusion process in which a dough-like mass of raw food is mixed with water, heated, and then pushed through a cooled nozzle. The interaction between the temperature and pressure is what creates the resulting product’s texture. KIT process engineer Azad Emin and his colleagues are focusing their research on these interactions, using precise measurements, computer-based simulations, and detailed visualizations of vegan meat’s microstructure, which allows them to develop an understanding of how changing physical parameters would create different results. “We have developed an approach and a method which enable the process to be examined and controlled with the focus on changes in texture,” Emin told ZME Science. In further research, Emin hopes to test a new process that adds lipids and pre-textured protein components to vegan meat to create a product that replicates the chewy, fibrous texture of animal products such as chicken breast and steaks.
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