Jackfruit - Building Flavour for Meatless Monday
September 06th 2018
Faces of Food Science
Jackfruit: Building Flavour for a Meatless Marvel
Meatless Monday is more than just a clever hashtag. It’s indicative of a major shift in consumer attitudes. Many people are eating less meat than before for a variety of reasons ranging from health to environmental concerns. Data shows that 53% of Canadians are using meatless products, including nearly two-thirds of people aged 18 to 44.
So what are they eating instead? Meat alternatives have been hit and miss so far for acceptance, but there is a lot of excitement about jackfruit.
Christine Rush, Product Development Director for Canada Flavour Solutions tells us how jackfruit can be used to create incredible meat alternative products and the role of layering flavours in making amazing flavour experiences. You’re just a click away from all the delicious facts about jackfruit!
One of the greatest barriers to mainstream adoption of meat substitutes is flavour. A survey revealed 42% of Canadians won’t eat meat analogues simply because they don’t like the taste. 27% added that they also don’t care for the texture. The solution to the second problem may lie with jackfruit, a remarkable (and large!) fruit native to southwest India.
The enormous fruits routinely reach 80 pounds or more, and a single tree may produce 200 such fruits in a year. It’s been cultivated for eating for thousands of years, and jackfruit’s popularity has spread throughout Asia.
Unripe and Ready
When ripe, cutting open a jackfruit unleashes a fruity aroma that’s not unlike bananas or pineapples. The flesh is sweet and it’s often used in desserts and smoothies. However, it’s younger jackfruit that hasn’t fully ripened yet that’s creating a stir in the food world.
Before it ripens, the flesh of the jackfruit has a mild flavour and a texture similar to shredded meat. It even pulls apart a lot like chicken or pork. The flesh absorbs whatever flavours it’s cooked with, making it a treat to work with. Nutritionally speaking, jackfruit looks great on a label. It’s a source of numerous vitamins and minerals, fibre, and protein. All this with only a modest calorie count. It’s almost too good to be true!
Of course, none of this is worth anything if you can’t convince consumers to eat it. The way to do that is to make it a truly delicious substitute for meat that isn’t a compromise. First, though, you have to decide what type of product you mean to create.
Choose Your Flavour Path
As Christine Rush, Product Development Director for Canada Flavour Solutions tells us, “What we’ll think about is what kind of meat we are targeting. Is it chicken, pork, or beef? Another major consideration is the form of meat. Are we creating something with a further processed texture, similar to a burger-type product or a whole muscle-type textured product?”
Once the form of meat is determined, then we move on to work on our flavour decisions. “There are certain ingredients that compliment chicken, like celery, garlic and onion,” says Christine. “If you were making something ‘meatier’, you might add subtle notes reminiscent of Montreal Steak Spice to make you think of barbecue products, with heartier, richer flavours.”
But how do you make a giant Asian fruit really taste like barbecued meat? “You’d layer on the grill or smoke flavours along with specific meat flavours. You may want to use an Applewood, or Mesquite smoke, or something more Hickory-like,” Christine reveals. “On the other hand, if you were developing for vegans or vegetarians you may not want any flavours reminiscent of meat. You always need to understand your target market and what it is that they most desire. This is why product development truly works best as a collaborative process, engaging consumer insights, marketing and culinary experts to further enhance the product development cycle.”
Layering On the Flavour
However, there’s more to creating a flavour experience than just mixing the right ingredients. It’s just as important to be able to taste them individually and in the right order. Otherwise, you may lose the full effect and the results could be disappointing.
The secret to creating deep, convincing, and fabulous flavours is layering. As Christine puts it, “The best flavours are created by layering different nuances. You start to layer on all the different flavour profiles until you’re leading the consumers’ taste buds down the intended sensory experience path. We make use of the top notes from some really interesting essences and extracts, then leverage ground spices to further develop the experience.”
To deliver the perfect lingering flavour we often use our proprietary FlavorCell® technology. Unique in the industry, FlavorCell® allows us to layer flavours for sequential release, meaning the consumer enjoys a complex series of tastes one after the other.
“We’ve really taken advantage of FlavorCell®,” says Christine. “We can adjust the flavour delivery - how it impacts the end-user, and when. For instance, sometimes you want a really lingering flavour in an experience. FlavorCell® makes it possible.”
Not only does it allow flavours to shine, it also helps them survive the rigours of industrial-scale production. According to Christine, “Often processing will destroy the delicate flavours and you lose a lot of the really delicious, fresh top notes. FlavorCell® will protect the flavour to allow it to come through the entire process. For example, that could mean enduring processing and baking at high temperatures; it prevents topical burning because the flavours are encapsulated. There are a number of distinct advantages in application work that FlavorCell® provides us, allowing us to deliver a flavour experience that would otherwise be impossible.”
If you’re looking ahead to a plant-based future for your food product, and you want to create the perfect flavour to connect with consumers, you need to start with us. Whether you’re building from a base of upstart jackfruit, or a tried and true option like tofu or tempeh, our product development and flavour teams, in conjunction with our culinary experts, will work with you to create your delicious and production-ready flavour solution.
Contact us today, or download our FlavorCell® sales sheet to learn more.