Nutrigras is one such solution. It is a stable emulsion of 9-percent vegetable oil and 62-percent water that has been formed by turbid excess steam jet cooking and made stable with microencapsulation in a starch solution that holds the emulsion steady. It is available in liquid, gel, or dry form and can be easily customized to the specific needs of the food manufacturer. When constituted, it looks and tastes just like real fat, but it is significantly healthier.
It is primarily intended for use as a partial replacement for animal fat in beef patties and other normally high-fat meat products, but can also be used in soups, sauces, bakery items, and desserts.
Nutrigras is intended to be used as a direct, pound-for- pound replacement of fat, and since it is only 9-percent fat, it is possible to produce products that have 90-percent less fat than their full-fat counterparts. It contains 80-percent fewer calories per gram than fat.
In addition to the nutritional benefits, the fat replacement has added industrial benefits. First, it costs less than the food it replaces and can help manufacturers reduce material costs. Secondly, in precooked products, Nutrigras can increase moisture content, which increases product yield. For example, in research on cooked beef, the Nutrigras-enhanced product shrank 10-percent less than the beef that had not received the additive.
It is healthy, has wide-spread applicability, and is more cost effective than using full-fat products; but really, how does it taste? That is the big breakthrough. With Nutrigras, the finished product is more moist and tender. Quantitative consumer testing conducted by the company indicated that a beef patty made with Nutrigras was actually preferred to the full-fat beef patty. The unique structure of Nutrigras allows for improved flavor delivery. The construction of Nutrigras is receptive to the addition of flavors that can be carried and then released in a “burst” when consumed. This can be positioned as a point of difference for food manufacturers.
The company has been working on a number of specific applications, with the primary focus on beef, pork, chicken, and turkey. Work has also been done to enhance the performance of various baked goods, ice creams, ice cream novelties, soups, sauces, and salad dressings.
Development work and testing has been completed on beef patties. In beef, optimal results have been obtained when converting 80/20 ground beef (80- percent lean meat/20-percent fat) to 80/15/5 (80-percent lean meat/15-percent Nutrigras/5-percent fat.) Product testing is currently underway on pork sausage and chicken, and one customer is currently working on a turkey enhancement.
Nutrigras can be used to add flavors to a variety of baked goods, resulting in reduced fat and calories while enhancing flavor. Moreover, preliminary research has indicated the potential for product stability benefits from Nutrigras. Baked goods are left moister, better tasting, and the resultant product contains less fat and fewer calories.
Ice cream can be made with less heavy cream by replacing a portion of the cream with Nutrigras. Overall costs are reduced (cream is more costly than Nutrigras), and the flavor profile is enhanced and improved. In addition, unique flavors can be obtained through customized formulations. Nutrigras can act as a stabilizer and reduce the use of extraneous gums and emulsifiers that are expensive and clutter product labels. Nutrigras has also demonstrated the ability to reduce the negative freeze/thaw characteristics of conventional ice cream.
Additionally, soups can be flavor enhanced, better tasting, and have improved mouth feel. Low-fat sauces and salad dressings can be improved in similar fashions.
The company has been able to repay the help provided by NASA by contributing to the Space Agency’s astronaut diet. The Nutrigras fat substitute can be used as a flavor enhancer and shelf-life extender for use on the ISS.
Nutrigras™ is a trademark of H.F. Food Technologies Inc.