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Gelatin-based scaffolding releases meaty flavor at high temps

Gelatin-based scaffolding releases meaty flavor at high temps
Cultured meat with the flavor-switchable scaffold. Credit: Yonsei University

A team of chemical and biomolecular engineers at Yonsei University, working with a pair of colleagues at Kangwon National University, both in the Republic of Korea, has developed a gelatin-based scaffolding that releases a meaty-flavored compound at high temperatures.

In their study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the group sought to replicate the sensations of eating steak cooked on a grill.

Raising animals for consumption not only requires a lot of resources, but plays a major role in releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. So chemists and engineers have been looking for ways to create it artificially.

When is cooked, it undergoes a chemical reaction at temperatures of 150°C—called a Maillard reaction, it occurs between sugars and that exist naturally in the meat. The result is the burst of flavor commonly associated with cooking meat. In this new effort, the researchers attempted to replicate the Maillard reaction using a gelatin-based scaffolding.

The researchers began by noting that most current efforts to grow artificial meat focus most heavily on appearance and texture. They suggest this approach overlooks more important characteristics, such as —most specifically the unique taste conferred by a Maillard reaction.

This, they further suggest, means that to create a reasonable facsimile of meat, the process should begin with making sure that a Maillard reaction occurs when it is cooked—appearance and texture can be figured out later.

  • Gelatin-based scaffolding releases meaty flavor at high temps
    Cell seeding on the flavor-switchable scaffold to produce cultured meat with meaty flavors. Credit: Yonsei Univeristy
  • Gelatin-based scaffolding releases meaty flavor at high temps
    Schematic illustration of switchable flavor system. Credit: Nature Communications (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-024-49521-5

To that end, the team created what they describe as a gelatin-based scaffolding that is flavor-switchable at high temperatures, releasing what they describe as a meaty-flavored compound based on furfuryl mercaptan. The release happens, they note, as the scaffolding breaks down under high heat. Until then, it is held in place by a binding group.

The result does not look at all like meat—it looks more like thick pink Jello. But and human taste tests showed that it tastes remarkably like grilled beef. The research team notes that the texture of the resulting product is not too far off from that of real beef; thus, all they need to do is find a way to make it look like the real thing.

More information: Milae Lee et al, Flavor-switchable scaffold for cultured meat with enhanced aromatic properties, Nature Communications (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-024-49521-5

Journal information: Nature Communications

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Citation: Gelatin-based scaffolding releases meaty flavor at high temps (2024, July 10) retrieved 22 July 2024 from
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