Manufacturing plant-based protein products
Several types of plant-based protein products are available in the supermarket. These are primarily made from soy, pea or wheat protein. These ingredients are often used to make plant-based protein products that look like meat and are in fact called meat analogues. Examples include: hamburgers, chicken burgers, American breakfast patties, sausages, cordon bleus and nuggets. These products are made from texturized proteins.
What are texturized plant-based protein?
What are texturized plant-based protein actually? Textured proteins are proteins that have been given a fibrous structure through the process of extrusion.
How are texturized protein for plant-based proteins products manufactured?
Proteins extracted from, for example, soya, wheat and pea are pressed through a mould under pressure at a high temperature, which lends the proteins a fibrous structure. For plant-based protein products, we distinguish between so-called ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ extrusion.
For ‘wet’ extrusion, the texturized protein is used directly, for example when making vegan chicken strips.
For ‘dry’ extrusion, the texturized protein must first absorb water before it can be used for the final product.
The proteins must be extracted from the raw materials
Before proteins are suitable for the extrusion process, the proteins are first removed from the bean or grain. Legumes and grains don’t just contain protein, but also starch, fibres and fat. Flour is made from the bean or grain. This is dissolved, after which the protein is separated from the other parts by means of protein extraction. This results in a protein concentrate that is 50% protein. The next step is extracting the protein from this concentrate. This results in a protein isolate that is at least 80% protein. For the extrusion process, protein concentrate and protein isolate can be used.
Why are plant-based protein products manufactured based on textured proteins?
Texturized proteins are essential for achieving the fibrous structure. This helps the vegetarian hamburger or vegan chicken strip have a structure that is as meat-like as possible.
Soy, pea or wheat protein?
Textured proteins are often made from soya, peas, and wheat, as these ingredients are well suited to obtaining a fibrous structure.
Why use soy for plant-based protein?
Depending on the intended purpose of the meat alternative, one of these ingredients can be chosen. Soy provides a very good fibrous structure and is also most widely available.
Why use wheat for plant-based protein?
Wheat protein results in a different fibrous structure than soy protein, which is better suited for vegetarian chicken products, for example.
Why use peas for plant-based protein?
The advantage of pea over soy and wheat is that it contains no allergens. However, it is less readily available.
In addition to soy, wheat and pea, new proteins such as broad beans are also emerging.
Questions about the production of proteins for our plant-based protein products?
This was a bird’s-eye view of the production of plant-based proteins. We have an R&D team that develops products based on this type of protein on a daily basis. Want to learn more about our R&D blog?
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