Microalgae makes plant-based burgers ‘bleed’

By James Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Pictured: Yemoja's photobioreactors used for the creation of 'bleeding' microalgae
Pictured: Yemoja's photobioreactors used for the creation of 'bleeding' microalgae

Related tags: plant-based, microalgae

Plant-based burgers could soon ‘bleed’ like their meat counterparts, thanks to a new development from food tech start-up Yemoja.

A new microalgae – dubbed Ounje – developed by Israeli firm the mimics the ‘bloody’ juiciness of real meat without the need for artificial colour additives.

The deep red algae is grown indoors in high precision, photobioreactors and exhibits potential to act as a natural, clean, and 100% plant-sourced heme substitute to serve the cultured meats and plant-based alt-meat sectors, according to the company.

Yemoja’s microalgal heme substitute provides the initial red pigment to raw plant-based meats, browns up when cooked and congeals like real meat juices.

Similar properties

As co-founder Amikam Bar-Gil explained: “We found the polysaccharides within this particular algae species express a viscosity similar to gelatine when cooked. Its natural fibre also awards an appealing crunchiness and emits an appetizing meaty aroma.”

Outside of the aesthetics of the product’s visual and textural meat-like appeal, the algae provides also gives an added nutrient boost to the product.

Yemoja described microalgae as a highly sustainable crop boasting a 20%-30% protein load that harboured the complete essential amino acids profile – a valuable source of essential fatty acids, polyphenols as well as minerals and vitamins.

Erez Ashkenazi, co-founder and chief executive, added: “The demand for clean, naturally sourced alternative proteins that can dually exert a less harmful impact on the environment is an internationally sought venture.

‘Cost effective solution’

“Our advanced patented cultivation system offers a high-value yet cost-effective solution that can be easily scaled up to the unique needs of the various alt protein/meat producers to help bolster this rapidly growing category.”

The start-up currently is piloting its microalgae ingredient with one plant-based start-up and another cultured meat producer.

Meanwhile, a pioneering plant designed to extract plant-based protein from cabbages​ is awaiting planning permission in Spalding, Lincolnshire.

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