Juicy Marbles, a company specializing in whole-cut plant-based meats, has unveiled its latest creation: Bone-In Ribs with edible vegan bones.
Getting the texture and flavor of ribs right with plant-based ingredients is tough and the company does this through its proprietary technology. Known as “the Meat-o-matic Reverse Grinder TM 9000,” the process layers soy proteins into linear fibers, imitating the texture and flavor of ribs.
But if that’s not enough, Juicy Marbles took the innovation a step further by developing vegan “bones” to give the rack of ribs both structure and take it beyond the limitations of animal meat.
Beef about edible vegan bones?
These edible plant-based bones are made from almost pure protein, boasting a content comparable to beef jerky. The bones can be consumed as puffed, crispy snacks after baking, frying, or air-frying.
Co-founder Vladimir Mićković says this intentional feature was developed as a structural element and to point to the limitless possibilities of vegan food and how it can surpass and outperform animal products in new ways.
“There were two main reasons we wanted to include bones. First being, that without them they are not ribs, but just a big slab of meat,” Mićković tells VegNews.
“The second big reason kinda stems from the first, and that is the fact that bones invite you to eat with your hands, which is fun,” he says.
After previewing the Bone-In-Ribs, Juicy Marbles says that its decision to mimic bones in a vegan product has ignited debate online. And the company is happy to get people critically thinking about the topic.
The creation of edible bones was not purely about logistics but the joy of challenging concepts and providing a more engaging eating experience.
The idea behind the product was inspired by the team’s nostalgia for the primal joys of eating ribs and the need for more ‘food culture-friendly’ plant-based foods. The team believes that meat’s cultural experience goes beyond flavor and includes celebration, sharing, and belonging.
“When we say ‘the entire experience of meat,’ what we are talking about is the fact that sometimes the best things about food are not necessarily the food—but the people around the table,” Mićković says.
“So what we’d like to add to this landscape are food items that enable (or even encourage) socializing, camaraderie, [and] culinary sins,” he says. “Whole cuts have that capacity.”
While a novel and exciting idea, Mićković explains that the bones are not yet perfected to be eaten straight from the rib rack and might need a bit of seasoning to shine on their own.
“They need to be fried up or sizzled a little bit in order to become a tasty little snack,” he says. “They kinda puff up under heat and become crispy.”
Juicy Marbles’ Bone-in Ribs will be available for regular purchase on the company’s web shop sometime in early 2024. Currently, the product is available via limited “drops” in the United Kingdom, European Union, and United States.
Juicy Marbles has a history of using pre-releases and early customer feedback to refine its products, with “meat drops” selling out within hours. This process, Mićković explains, is imperative for product development, akin to inviting a friend to taste dinner before it’s ready to serve.
Interested consumers can sign up for the “list of pure prestige” on the company’s website to access the first small batch of 500 rib racks, set to drop on August 28. Subscribers can earn points for a chance to win a free rack of ribs on launch day through referrals and social media shares.
Recreating the full meat experience and beyond
The new Bone-in-Ribs are the latest innovation from Juicy Marbles, which has been wowing curious consumers since 2020 when Slovenian entrepreneurs Mićković, Tilen Travnik, Luka Sincek, and Maj Hrovat brought the vegan meat company to life.
During last year’s holiday season, the company released yet-another first: a hefty 1.5-pound vegan sirloin that featured a traditional meat texture, complete with the ability to produce the Maillard reaction (the desired browning during meat cooking) for authentic flavor.
This tenderloin followed the launch of Juicy Marbles’ flagship product: whole-cut vegan steaks that eat like filet mignon.
More than a simple meat substitute, the company’s innovations signify a redefinition of the entire meat category, which Mićković hopes will transcend the binary of plant versus animal sources.
With texture and flavor nailed, Juicy Marbles is also working on making its meats more attractive in price than their animal-derived counterparts. One example was that its holiday tenderloin whole cut came offering a 10-percent per pound discount on the whole-cut steak format.
With plans to expand to restaurant menus and new products always in the pipeline, Juicy Marbles is shaping a new culinary perspective that emphasizes the enjoyment and diversity of plant-based meats within the broader food family.
Mićković hopes that Juicy Marbles’ approach inspires others to push the envelope.
“We ‘make meat’… we can do anything, so why stop at nuggets?” Mićković says. “Right now, our category is plagued with copy-cat brands just churning out mediocre sausages and patties.”
This landscape, he explains, has led to a public narrative about how the “poor sales of these poor products” are an indicator that plant-based meat is “just a fad.”
“Most people will not buy products just because they are ‘environmentally responsible.’ We are not that rational as a species,” Mićković says. “So I really hope to see some competitor come out with something that challenges us and the status quo greatly.”