In recent years, the increasing number of health conscious and vegan consumers has led to a growing interest in plant-based meat alternatives. Meat substitutes are produced from plant proteins using extrusion technology, in which the proteins are processed under thermomechanical stress to form textured products. Besides soy and what as the plant protein source, peas getting increasing consumer attention as a local and non-GMO protein crop. However, their use as a texturized protein in meat alternatives is limited due to their technological and sensory properties (soft structure, bean/grassy off-flavour, bitter astringent off-flavour). In particular, the high concentrations of flavoring ingredients used to mask the plant off-flavor in the end product are criticed by consumer associations.
Fermentation is a promising method for the sensory improvement of food. It has been used for thousands of years for preservation and to improve the nutritional and sensory profile. However, the process transfer of fermentation from animal to plant products is complex. The plant raw materials provide different components for aroma formation, which means that, depending on the raw material, different sensory profiles are created during fermentation. The aim of the research is to find suitable starter cultures for fermentation processes to modify the sensory profile of textured pea proteins into meat-like aroma and taste impressions. In addition, the influence of fermentation conditions on the aroma and taste profile of plant protein ingredients and the reduction or masking of undesirable aroma and taste components will be investigated. Application tests are used to evaluate the new developed, organoleptically improved protein textures exemplarily in plant-based burger patties and to identify new applications in the food industry.