Sign up FAST! Login

The Secret of These New Veggie Burgers: Plant Blood

Stashed in: Science!, Plants!, Nutrition!, Innovation, Meat!, Vegans!, World Hunger, Botany

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Very exciting time in the fake-meat industry, with long-overdue research into the components of flavor.

Amazing biochemical craftmanship:

Tricking carnivores isn’t easy.

Impossible Foods first had to deconstruct the hundreds of basic flavors and smells of cooked ground meat including compounds that alone taste like sulfur and saw dust.

One of the most important findings was the role that heme plays in meat flavor. That molecule unlocks flavors when it is exposed to sugars and amino acids, giving cooked meat its distinct taste.

The company also had to figure out how to solve texture by identifying the right compounds from plants to recreate animal tissue. So far, it has functional versions of fat, connective tissue and muscle made from plant compounds.

The result is a dark red patty that looks and feels like raw ground beef and transforms as it cooks. During a demonstration with the Journal, the patty gradually browned and caramelized on the grill, releasing oil from fats and producing the smell of cooked meat. In the mouth, the patty pulls apart the way burger meat does. The taste isn’t perfect, though—arguably several rungs below a gourmet burger, and more akin to a turkey patty.

Food science has really gotten sophisticated.

Give it another decade and we seriously won't be able to tell the difference.