Masking: Does it contain the secret to delicious plant protein?

Building a tasty plant protein product involves a complex process with many steps, each one raising its own questions and challenges. You could call this the plant-based challenge.

How can you boost the image of a processed protein? What about making it tastier? What about bringing back juiciness, authenticity, and meatiness to meat alternatives? 

Different factors play a role here, from texture to appearance and nutrition. All going hand in hand with delivering great taste. Masking forms just one step in the process. And how crucial a role is it playing? Could it represent the underrated secret to better tasting plant protein? Let’s take a closer look.

Overview of Symrise Masking Solutions:

Neutral Taste Masking for Alternative Protein
Neutral taste masking solutions

Natural masking solutions with a neutral taste.

Neutral Taste Foodstuff Masking for Alternative Protein
Food-declared neutral taste masking solutions

Food-declared masking solution with a neutral taste.

Vegetable Typified Masking for Alternative Protein
Vegetable typified masking solutions

Kitchen-like masking solutions with a vegetable taste.

Identifying off-notes
Today, alternative proteins come from an array of sources, including predominately legumes (like pea and soy), and also increasingly mycoprotein (fermentation of fungus) and even algae. Each comes with its own technical properties. Each with its own taste profile. Some taste more bitter. Others slightly fishy. In this first step you have to choose, which plant protein works for your product. 

Based on innovative molecular analysis, tools like ProtiScan™ enable us to select, analyze and characterize off-notes and aromas. This makes it easier and faster to find the most appropriate approach for each application and client request.Nicolas Basch, Culinary Development & Portfolio Director

Building taste
Now, the choice of protein includes only the first part of the story. You now need to balance the off-notes that you have identified. Here, masking comes in. This easily overlooked step provides a neutral or culinary typified base on which to build in taste, juiciness, and aromas.

You might like to read the good news. This blank or typified canvas reduces the amount of flavoring and top notes you need to add. By limiting the sugar, salt, and fat content, you get a simpler product with a shorter ingredient list – chiming with consumer concerns about nutrition and a desire for greater naturality.

A holistic approach

Increasingly efficient technologies simplify and enhance the masking process, while also enabling you to create congruent taste blocks (juicy or meaty, for example) based on the desired result. 

Neutral taste masking solutions
Solutions like SymLife® Natural Flavor Masking Range can provide neutral masking blocks based on the protein’s sensory profile. Does it taste dry, beany or cereal-like? This creates the foundation to enrich and enhance the flavor for added complexity and liking.

Food-declared neutral taste masking solutions
Our portfolio of natural raw materials allowed us to create a food-ingredient-based optimizer with a neutral taste. The aim? Induce juiciness, increase salt perception and mask off-notes – like the SymLife® Food-Declared Masking Range. This forms a completely natural process based on food.

Vegetable typified masking solutions
To increase the natural vegetable taste, masking with kitchen-like ingredients provides a multitude of “clean label” solutions – whether Sapids to enrich acidity and sweetness, Alliaceous through onion and garlic or Culinary to create complex taste blocks.

These diverse and complementary masking solutions adapt to different proteins and applications to offer a neutral or typified base. By focusing on natural ingredients, we can cater to the growing desire for more natural plant protein and help food companies build more kitchen-like recipes.Pierre Osche, R&D Vegetable Leader

Ready to take up the challenge together? Get in touch.

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Learn how Symrise is using Advanced Ion Mobility Spectrometry to create great tasting alternative protein products.

Discover ProtiScan™