A ready meals manufacturer is experimenting with pomegranate powder, as a way of reducing salt content in its products.
The Authentic Food Company has been steadily reducing the amount of salt in its Indian, Chinese, Mexican and British ready meal ranges, "well ahead of industry standards", claimed Lee Tynan, food innovation and development controller at The Authentic Food Company. "The aim is to bring all, or most, of our products out of the red category and into amber for salt and fat. A goal which we have almost achieved," said Tynan.
According to the manufacturer, 90% of its products now fall in the amber category, 7% in green and 3% in red. "To achieve these salt and fat reductions, we have been experimenting with a number of methods, including adding pomegranate powder to reduce salt," said Tynan.
"Pomegranate powder, as a salt replacement, works particularly well in our Indian range but not so well in beef stocks in our British range or as a salt replacement in our Chinese meals - as most of the salt in this range comes from soy sauce, and it's proving difficult to reduce the amount of soy sauce without losing taste," added Tynan.
In Indian meals, he said, pomegranate powder works well, as it "brings out the flavours", allowing for a reduction in salt without compromising on flavour. One of the largest manufacturers of ready meals also uses pomegranate powder for this reason, he claimed, "you can see it on the ingredients list"
"The powder is an expensive ingredient but a little bit goes a long way," added commercial director of The Authentic Food Company, Andy . "Similarly, the salt we do use in products is very good quality, so it is possible to use less when compared to cheaper salts."
The Authentic Food Company has also achieved salt reductions in some meals by switching to non-modified starches.
"We found that modified starches can mask flavours to an extent. So we decided to switch to using a non-modified starch as a way of making the salt taste stronger," added Tynan. "But in doing this, we found that we had to tweak the recipes in our Indian range, as the flavour of the spices also came through very strong," he said.