Mixing meat-free products
While eating less meat and choosing alternatives to animal products is becoming increasingly popular, whether for health, environmental, or ethical reasons, the obstacles to producing well-textured, palatable end-products remain. However, one solution could be found in how the materials are combined.
The majority of meat-free production methods are similar to meat-based manufacturing processes. The most noticeable contrast is that meat is frequently the primary component that defines the product’s handling and formulation qualities in most formed meat products.
There is a natural propensity for beef and other animal products heavy in fats and proteins to be more durable and remain together. A vegetable combination has more moisture than meat, resulting in substantial differences in handling. Many analogue products contain various base components, most of which are dry, such as pea or soy powder and vegetable fibres. These may be mixed with water, oils and gelling agents.
Industrial mixers, meatless to say, are an important piece of equipment in the production of plant-based foods, assisting manufacturers in developing new product formulations, ensuring hygiene, scaling their processes and achieving the right taste, texture and appearance to achieve peak efficiency and profitability. This process is not only difficult but also time-consuming, labour-intensive and expensive. This is where a Winkworth mixer and early use of our Customer Test Centre in the UK would be most useful in moving your projects forward. Perhaps employing a mixer to further expand the process within your factory. Our mixers are specifically developed to meet the issues that plant-based meat firms face.
Meat alternatives are getting more complex, moving from simple meat substitute ingredients to ready-to-cook meat substitute items like vegetarian sausages, chicken dippers and bacon. A growing market – Actually, it’s more of an evolving market. This market is seeing a great deal of new product development, with much of the process development taking place at our very own test centre in Hampshire. This is achievable due to the presence of process, design and manufacturing skills all under one roof. We can take it from concept to the finished equipment.
Finding a solution
The majority of meat substitute production methods begin with an emulsion before extruding a dry protein mixture that frequently contains more than 30 different ingredients. These include flavouring, colouring and preservatives. Each of these elements has a specific role to play in assisting the plant-based meat product to reach the desired results.
It is difficult to achieve consistency since the various ingredients used in plant-based food manufacturing have very varying physical qualities. Too much shear when mixing can break the fragile structures of the particles that are needed for the product to solidify and have a dense, meaty texture.
The Winkworth PV and RT ranges have thus far provided the most suitable frameworks for meat-substitute mixing. Chamber and mixer blade designs will vary according to the needs of the mix. For example, a plough share mixer uses a cylindrical chamber with a high-speed rotational shaft and blade arms; at the end of each arm will be a plough-shaped shovel or similar (e.g., paddle) blade normally mounted on a horizontal axis. The rotational speeds will achieve high turbulence of product inside the chamber and the mixing is deemed fluidised since the mixing action is performed in a centralised ‘cloud’ in mid-chamber, thus achieving high-speed rapid randomised dispersion of particles. Winkworth Machinery’s RT industrial mixer is ideal for mixing powders, granules, pastes, slurries and doughs, considerably reducing process cycle times. Versatility and flexibility are key qualities, enabling customers to precisely specify the machine to meet their needs. Intense high- or low-shear mixing is also possible.
With sizes ranging from 14 litres to 4,200 litres, Winkworth Mixers are suitable for manufacturers of all sizes. The RT mixers are designed so that they can discharge quickly, have easy maintenance, be hygienic and mix at a high speed.
Common Production Issues
Mixing and heating liquids and slurries, adding powders, fibres, wet agglomerates, or oil. There are many problems that can arise with these recipe steps. Common ones include: