Whether looking to satisfy the needs of traditional vegetarians or those of converted meat-eaters, manufacturers of both vegetarian and vegan products have used vegetable proteins very effectively for many years to achieve the eating qualities demanded by their consumers. Many vegetable proteins have a very high PDCAAS and so can be used to create extremely nutritious foods.
By choosing the correct combination of vegetable proteins, manufacturers can control the texture and mouthfeel of their products whilst optimising yields, reducing cooking losses and making their products more appealing.
1. Functional proteins
Functional proteins, such as soya or pea isolates and soya or pea concentrates can emulsify vegetable oil and therefore have an important role to play in ensuring the finished product has the required succulence. These vegetable proteins may also have a large benefit in terms of structure contribution as they have the ability to bind water and create a sliceable gel structure.
This structure forming ability also has a role in the manufacture of high moisture extrusion (HME) products which are becoming more commonplace in the frozen meat analogue sector.
2. Wheat gluten
Wheat gluten has the ability to form a firm, fibrous texture which is beneficial in many applications. In order to maximise this structure-forming ability, manufacturers need to ensure sufficient physical energy is applied and optimal mixing temperatures are achieved.
3. Textured proteins
Vegetable proteins can be extruded through a shaped die at high temperature and pressure and the resulting pieces of textured vegetable protein can be cut to various sizes. This technique is used to manufacture textured soya flour (TVP), textured soya concentrates, textured pea protein and textured wheat protein as well as combinations thereof.
The resulting textured vegetable proteins can provide a structure similar to ground or diced meats and so are invaluable ingredients in a host of meat analogue products.
4. Other vegetable protein sources
Vegetables, beans or pulses may be incorporated to create more interesting flavours and textures, and it should be borne in mind that all of these ingredients will contain nutritious protein – comparison of the PDCAAS values will help determine the nutritional contribution each vegetable, bean or pulse type will make to the final product.
These ingredients may be incorporated in natural forms (such as maize kernels, lentils, quinoa and whole nuts or pieces), as ground products (such as whole navy bean powder) or as de-fatted flours (such as peanut flour).