Enhancing the water holding capacity of model meat analogues through marinade composition
Cornet, Steven H.V.; Snel, Silvia J.E.; Lesschen, Judith; Goot, Atze Jan van der; Sman, Ruud G.M. van der
Meat analogues can offer consumers a more sustainable alternative to meat. A successful meat analogue is characterized by a meat-like texture and high juiciness. Juiciness is related to the water holding capacity (WHC). To gain an understanding of how to control the WHC via external conditions, we investigate the effect of ionic strength and pH on water uptake. Model meat analogues were prepared in a Shear Cell and swollen in baths of known pH and ionic strength. The effect of bath composition on water uptake was determined experimentally, and simulated using Flory–Rehner theory. Experiments and simulations were in qualitative agreement. The results show that water uptake increases with an increasing difference between bath pH and the protein's iso-electric point (pI). At low ionic strengths, the internal pH is near the pI, resulting in reduced swelling. At high ionic strengths, the charge imbalance between gel and bath is limited, also resulting in reduced swelling. At intermediate ionic strengths, swelling increases with decreasing bath ionic strength. Cross-link density negatively relates to WHC and can be controlled via the addition of cross-linking and reducing agents. This work shows that by carefully choosing marinade pH and ionic strength, the WHC of meat analogues can be controlled. These advancements can help improve the sensory characteristics and yield of meat analogues and could enable the production of reduced-salt products.