Israeli food firm uses fermentation to transform plant-based meat

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Israeli food firm uses fermentation to transform plant-based meat

'Chunk' uses a preparation process similar to that of cheese, coffee and cocoa to remove 'grassy' taste of soy-based meat products.

Chunk Foods. Photo by Tal Sivan-Ziporin
Chunk Foods. Photo by Tal Sivan-Ziporin

An Israeli-American company has entered the plant-based meat market with a secret weapon – fermentation. 

Founded in Brooklyn by Israeli Amos Golan, “Chunk” is launching its plant-based meat based on a fermentation process similar to that of cheese, which reduces the common “grassy or beany flavour” in plant-based foods.

“It’s essentially the same fermentation process used to remove bitter taste from cocoa or coffee. It’s also similar to the fermentation of blue cheeses and brie, and even sausages,” Golan tells Jewish News.

Competing with the original taste of meat is one of the main challenges for plant-based meat products, but there are several other issues that make it difficult to compete with animal based products.

“I looked at some of the products and found that they all had a lot of ingredients, often between 20-25. It’s an issue because people are used to eating a single or two ingredient product, such as meat or fish,” Golan tells Jewish News.

Golan therefore decided not to add any preservatives or additives to his products, and has reduced the list of ingredients in the products to nine.

The company now has a research and development team in Israel and the U.S., with 17 people focusing on using the fermentation process while trying to reduce the list of ingredients further.

Chunk Foods. Photo by Tal Sivan-Ziporin.

Golan hopes to expand the company’s list of meat like products to fish, lamb and poultry: “We can control many of the attributes of our whole cut products, such as the percentage of fat, the flavour and the colour. So now we can literally create any type of cut.

Chunk, which is also kosher, is piloting its products with restaurants in the U.S., while a factory is being built in Israel to produce the products that the company hopes to ship to the U.S., sometime next year.

“I believe we will have one or two locations in Israel as well,” Golan says.

As far as price goes, which Golan says has been one of the biggest challenges of plant-based products when competing with meat, the company’s goal is to make its products if not cheaper than meat then the same price.

“We know that price is one of the most important factors (for consumers)” when deciding whether to switch from meat to plant-based products.

The soy based product can be cooked the exact same way as real meat, Golan says: “You can barbeque, slow cook it or make a stew. So for restaurants, the transition is immediate, because it’s so similar to how they cook meat normally.”

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