Rosemary, adored by Aphrodite, the Goddess of beauty, fertility, and love, is a remarkable herb for all sorts of reasons, especially how flavourful it tastes. But it also has other powerful properties that can be put to excellent use in the world of food, a natural plant extract with antioxidant properties.
The UK is obsessed with crisps. It munches through six billion bags every year – and the empty packets often get dropped on the ground. “Crisp packets are the most unfriendly litter bug in the countryside and urban areas,” says Hugo Marfleet, technical sales manager at Kemin Food Technologies. “They are everywhere,blowing around in the wind, and they take forever to break down. And it’s all to keep the freshness of the crunch.”
Sustainable packaging would therefore be more eco-friendly, but its inherently more permeable, accelerating oxidation, which reduces shelf-life thus for crisps would have a detrimental effect on the crunchiness. It’s a problem, but Kemin has a solution in the form of an extract from Aphrodite’s favourite herb that will be on show at Food Matters Live’s Tastes of Better event in March.
It’s hard to imagine the goddess of love munching her way through a packet of salt & vinegar crisps, but guests attending the Tastes of Better event will discover how Kemin’s rosemary extract can provide a solution for any manufacturer looking for a sustainable way to package, including a packet of crisps without a reduction in shelf-life.
Marfleet says Kemin’s FORTIUM® R product line, made of natural rosemary plant extract that is added to the frying oil, means “as you fry the potato slices, they absorb the rosemary extract, which gives the crisps an extra protection. That keeps them crispier for longer. I have a customer exporting crisps around the world, they’re using our rosemary extract to extend that freshness and crunch in the crisps.”
That’s great, but rosemary is also famous for its pungency. Which begs the question, doesn’t everything just end up tasting of rosemary?
Not at all, he says. “It’s finding that balance, and this is where our skills and knowledge come in. We fine tune the rosemary and the dose rates, so that the flavouring is very subtle, with the secondary antioxidant properties protecting the flavour of the original product.
Reliable and sustainable
Kemin researches, grows, and harvests its own rosemary, guaranteeing quality and a reliable, sustainable supply chain.
“We went through a database of more than 400 rosemary plants, and they had to meet three criteria. One was biomass, we wanted a high yielding plant. The second was that we wanted a high level of Carnosic acid, which is the active molecule in rosemary having the secondary antioxidant properties. And the third one was that was reliable and sustainable in terms of growth. We then have our extraction process that turns rosemary into a super-natural plant extract with strong secondary antioxidant properties.”
Alongside FORTIUM R, Kemin has another extremely useful product called FORTI-Fry™, which extends the frying life of the frying oil.
“Not to generalise the industry, because I’ll be shot down in flames, but in some pubs and food service, the smell and the look of the frying oil is how they judge it’s frying life. That risks high levels of acrylamide, so everyone wanted a better way to figure out the life of the frying oil. There are testing devices that can cost anything from £350 to state-of-the-art machine which can cost up to £80,000.
“But by putting in FORTI-Fry, we can extend that frying life of the oil by about 25%. Then you can put in our rosemary extract as well, so you’re not only protecting your frying oil, but you’re also protecting the fried product, whether it’s crisps, or chips, or chicken nuggets, whether they are fresh or frozen. It also helps the browning process, because new oil is not good at getting golden brown, it will cook it, but it’s a nightmare to brown.”
Kemin will also be showing off the effect of another rosemary-infused product, NaturFORT™, on plant-based burgers at Tastes of Better, to demonstrate how it prevents oxidation and the subsequent deterioration in appearance. It’s made up of a combination of rosemary extract and green tea extract.
“Rosemary is more focused towards lipids, your oils and fats. Green tea is more focused towards your water-soluble products. Of course, vegetables have water in them, so with a plant-based burger, you’ve potentially got oil and fat, and water from your vegetables. So, you’re sort of wanting a two-pronged defence against oxidation. We lower the amount of rosemary and increase the amount of green tea, so you just end up with a more harmonised product with a two-pronged protection of lipids,
and colour and water. It keeps colours looking fresh, so when a consumer goes into the supermarket the product looks radiant.”
Innovative and creative
And again, uppermost in Kemin’s mind is protection against any infringement on taste. “What we’re trying to do is not affect the taste of a product. The key is to get the dose rate high enough to give you shelf life, but not high enough that it impacts the taste of your product. But because it’s in there doing its job, the product doesn’t deteriorate over time because the secondary antioxidant properties of Kemin’s ingredients are keeping it as though you’ve just made it.”
Hugo says “the dried version is also used in meats, sausages, burgers, ready meals and with the liquid version, sauces. Flexibility for a whole range of meat and vegan products. We have another product line of antimicrobial called BactoCEASE®, a buffered vinegar, which kills and reduces bacteria, it can be a good combination to provide full protection of your products, preventing mould and yeast issues.”
While everyone knows you can “never stop oxidation, in the end a product is always deteriorating” it’s still an “effective barrier to hold it back and slow it down. Fruit, chicken, sauces, hummus, when it comes to products it can be used for, it’s incredibly diverse.”
Marfleet says “I’m a “meat eater” but like foods that gives me different flavours and textures. Plant-based food is actually providing vegetarians, vegans and flexitarians with sustainable options that provide the mouthfeel that you can expect when eating meat.”
He says the UK is “leading the way” in food development. “We are so innovative and creative, the way we have started to shape food going forward has changed. It’s beautiful in its colours, beautiful in its flavours and it’s becoming more focused on being healthy for us. The UK is designing food that gives everybody choices, variety and inspiring us, delicious!”
Meet Kemin at the Food Matters Live: Tastes of Better series, an opportunity for ingredient innovators to showcase first-hand their latest ingredient, flavour and colour innovations to our UK audience of brands, manufacturers, retailers, foodservice and QSRs.