Plant-based proteins from pulses are still on the rise, but they often have inherent off-flavors that need to be masked or otherwise eliminated, Food Business News reports.
Processes such as infrared heating, roasting, fermentation or thermal treatment before beans and peas are milled may help reduce undesirable flavors.
- Improved flavor is particularly important for the increasing number of flexitarians looking for good-tasting meat alternative products that incorporate plant proteins.
Pulses are high in protein, fiber, iron, folate and potassium, and their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years. Manufacturers are adding them to a range of foods, including snacks and baked goods – and even to add a protein boost to beverages like coffee and chocolate milk.
Using different processing techniques to improve pulse flavors is particularly desirable for manufacturers because they do not need to be highlighted on product ingredient lists, unlike the use of flavor masking compounds. However, masking compounds may also include natural ingredients and flavors. There has been little research into different ingredients for masking flavors in pulses, but common approaches include using sugars, salts, flavors and acids, according to a research review published in the Cereal Chemistry journal last year.
Flavor-wise, fermentation is one of the most promising processes, the review found.
Many off-flavors found in pulses are inherent, but others are produced during harvesting, processing and storage, so changes in their handling could also help eliminate undesirable flavors. Meanwhile, companies such as Cargill, Ingredion and World Food Processing aim to reduce inherent off-flavors by developing blander tasting bean and pea cultivars.
The global pulse flour market is expected to reach $56.6 billion by 2024, according to a report from Grand View Research. Demand in North America is expected to grow at a CAGR of about 13% during that period.
The bakery and snacks category accounted for about 90% of pulse flour use in 2015, although it is becoming more popular as a beverage additive. Chickpea flour is the most popular of the pulses, with a market share of more than 30%.