Measuring Colors in Vegan Burgers

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A common problem in making vegetarian or vegan food substitutes is mimicking the appearance of meat products. They do not just need to resemble burgers or hotdogs after they’ve been grilled, but rather all throughout the cooking process. This requires the food to change color and texture at a rate similar to regular meat, which is no easy task.

One California-based food company recently launched a vegan burger that does just that. The main ingredient used is protein obtained from yellow peas, which provides a sumptuous texture that, when raw, is reminiscent of the soft, squishy feel of raw beef and hardens upon being cooked. Apparently even the taste resembles that of ground beef.

Still, no matter how it good tastes, the patty has to look appetizing to entice buyers, and that means getting the colors correct. One important part of the project was researching natural pigments. To do this, chemists were brought in to study chemical reactions, such as protein synthesis. By understanding the processes at work when a beef patty is grilled or cooked, they were able to devise ways of replicating the color of the meat before, during, and after meal preparation. Once they had an idea of how to mimic the appearance, the research became a bit simpler. Compared to something subjective like taste, the foods’ color was easy to quantify and measure. The end result? A patty that is not just a substitute for meat but a delicious meal. Although the company currently has not made any announcements, in an interview a head researcher mentioned the possibility of branching out into replicating other beef-based foods, like ragu or meatballs.

Konica Minolta Sensing offers a number of color & appearance measurement products that are capable of measuring the color of food like this. The CR-400 and CR-410 Chroma Meters are both accurate and can provide pass/fail grades to samples to ensure they all meet a set standard. Make sure your food looks as great as it tastes with Konica Minolta Sensing.

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