no content here. Featured Image only

Fermentation: This Ancient Technique Is the Key to Our Plant-Based Future



29 Mar 2023

Fermentation: This Ancient Technique Is the Key to Our Plant-Based Future

Fermentation: This Ancient Technique Is the Key to Our Plant-Based Future

Fermentation is the opposite of a new technology; we’ve been using it to make food and drink products like beer and wine, yogurtmiso, and kimchi for thousands of years. But what’s very old is new again, as science is tapping into this ancient process to create many of the most modern animal-free food products—meat, dairy and egg substitutes—that are showing up on grocery shelves in increasing numbers every day.

The process of fermentation involves the reaction of a natural or added yeast or healthy bacteria with carbohydrates to create alcohol or acid. “This method unlocks a more complex flavor profile, and is the reason fermented foods have gut health benefits,” explains Mac Anderson, co-founder and chief commercial officer of Cleveland Kitchen, which sells many fermented products, including raw and unpasteurized sauerkraut and kimchi.


These products preserve the probiotic properties that arise during the fermentation process. Probiotics encourage good bacteria to thrive in the tiny microbiome that is your gut, and those microorganisms are no joke. “We are learning more and more about how the gut microbiome is connected to your overall body health, from the immune system to metabolism, to heart and brain health,” says Sharon Palmer, a registered dietitian and author of The Plant-Powered Diet. 


The science backs her up. The study of gut bacteria is still fairly new, with much still to be explored, but the information we do have suggests that they can have significant impacts on not just your digestive health, but other bodily functions as well—even mental health. “Eating more fermented foods such as yogurt, pickled vegetables, and kefir can help boost these beneficial microbes,” Palmer adds.


Now, forward-thinking food scientists have discovered another benefit of fermentation: By tweaking the same processes that give us yogurt and beer, they can create a new generation of fake meats, eggs and dairy made to mimic many of your favorite animal-derived foods—yes, even bacon.


Well, why not just eat bacon, you ask? There are a lot of reasons to eat less animal-derived foods. Whether yours are ethicalenvironmental or medical, these animal-free alternatives help address all three.


Biomass Fermentation and Plant-Based Meat

Biomass fermentation is the new technique that Green Island, New York-based MyForest Foods uses to turn mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, into a bacon substitute. Eben Bayer, co-founder and CEO, explains: “Imagine a large indoor vertical farm with lots of shelving that reaches the top of a 20-foot ceiling,” he says. “We fill the shelves with a proprietary soil blend, technically called substrate, made up of wood pellets from sawmills and crop byproducts like the husks of seeds that have been cooked and seeded with gourmet mushroom mycelium.


Then, we replicate the elements of the forest inside this vertical farm: the breeze, the dew and the temperature.” The resulting growth is a series of fibers, only a few microns wide, that are similar to pork or beef cells. Joined together, they create giant slabs of mushroom root that are sliced into bacon-sized strips that, believe it or not, have a savory, smoky, umami, even meaty taste.

Read More


Sponsors & Partners

Saudi Food Show Pop up