Did you know that the cooking step is an essential part of creating the proper appeal of your plant-based product? That’s why it is vital to understand how the cooking process and choice of equipment affect your product and how it differs from cooking a meat-based alternative. Although you can use the same type of equipment in most cases, the settings and processing steps usually vary. Therefore, when choosing the right cooking equipment for your plant-based product, it is essential to test it to ensure that you take advantage of all possibilities. At JBT, we have many years of experience in different cooking processes for meat alternatives and myco-protein products and in providing the right equipment combinations. Together we will solve your processing challenges and help you cook great food. This article gives you some tips on setting up your process for cooking a plant-based product and choosing the right equipment.
Setting up a production line for cooking plant-based products
Unlike meat-based products that can be processed both raw and cooked depending on the end market, a plant-based product always benefits from cooking. It makes it taste better, gives it a better texture and an overall more appetizing look. And because the cooking process has a significant impact on the product, selecting the wrong method can change the outcome completely.
If you already are in the meat processing business, you know how to cook animal-based proteins – and that it has its challenges. Plant-based protein is an entirely different field, and the products have an even more complex composition and will not behave the same way as your animal-based protein. So, when you are setting up your production line, it is vital that you test, test, and test again. Make samples, and test critical factors like taste, appearance, and texture. Elaborate with dryness, moisture, and crispness. You can try different processes, like cooking slower or harder. Finding the right product and the proper method often takes hundreds of various iterations before it’s perfected.
At our Food Tech Centers, we have gathered all our expertise and experience in how different processes and combinations of equipment affect plant-based proteins, and it’s a good idea to partner up with us early in the process. We know how to support if you, for example, want to make your product crispier or change the texture.
Hygiene is an important factor also for plant-based
As you know, handling meat and other animal produce needs to meet very high hygiene and food safety requirements all through the process. What you may not know is that the exact conditions apply to processing plant-based products. Plants may seem less prone to bacterial growth, but both plants and meat contain water, and water activity is the base for everything that grows, including bacteria.
Food processing equipment for cooking plant-based products
Plant-based products don’t have a natural form like beef or chicken, so it always needs to be shaped before cooking. The base is often dry ingredients without taste, like soya protein, so it needs to be rehydrated and marinated with spices to add flavor. At JBT, we have a range of Schröder marinating solutions that can mix the brine and inject it into the product.
For cooking the shaped and marinated plant-based products, our Formcook Combi Cooker is ideal because it helps retain the product’s shape. It also combines contact cooking and forced air and steam method of heating, providing a high cooking intensity at temperatures up to 280 C. This heat level isn’t suitable for all products, but high temperatures can produce a better result for some. The Formcook’s solid non-stick cooking belt also works well for vegan burgers that are very sticky and hard to cook.
Depending on what set-up you want and the product’s composition, there is a variety of equipment and solutions for cooking your plant-based product. At JBT, we have both the experience and solutions to solve your cooking needs. Check out our wide range of cooking solutions here.
5-step-guide: How to succeed with your plant-based product
- Insights into critical factors for succeeding
- Vital questions that you need to address
- A suggested roadmap from start to finish
Cooking demonstrations on Formcook Contact Cooker from show
Need help to transition into plant-based?
JBT is a leading global full-solution provider within food processing, offering a broad portfolio of products and solutions. We have a long experience in plant-based protein processing and production, and our food experts are standing by to help you with your transition and guide you on your journey towards successfully growing your business.