A strategic shift in the marketing of mushrooms
Mushroom blendability (the practice of blending finely chopped fresh mushrooms with minced beef, lamb, chicken or fish in dishes such as hamburgers, meatballs and lasagna), is the hottest trend internationally in the consumption of mushrooms and is being promoted by mushroom councils around the globe.
Mushrooms have long had a meaty reputation due to its unique nutrient profile which provides both nutrients not typically found in plants, as well as nutrients commonly found in animal products. They are also rich in natural glutamates, an amino acid that is found in all foods with protein, making mushrooms a rich source of Umami: the fifth basic taste after sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Umami (pronounced oo-MAH-mee) is described as a savory, brothy, rich or meaty taste sensation. And that is exactly what mushrooms deliver.
Recent research by the Culinary Institute of America and the University of California-Davis published in the September 2014 issue of the Journal of Food Science. (Source: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1750-3841.12549/abstract) confirms that the combination of mushrooms with meat have many benefits to consumers.
The study showed that by using a 50/50 mushroom to meat blending ratio, total calorie, fat and saturated fat intake of a dish is decreased without losing any of the flavour. In fact, the umami-rich mushrooms actually enhance and deepen the flavour of the meat naturally whilst adding healthful nutrients such as potassium, B-vitamins and antioxidants to every bite. Adding mushrooms also results in a sodium intake reduction of 25%.
Greg Drescher, study co-author and vice president of strategic initiatives and industry leadership at The Culinary Institute of America adds, "Mushrooms have really come into their own as a solution to changing dietary patterns, earning their place on the plate with their nutrient quality, flavour impacts and incredible functionality across the menu."
The South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association (SAMFA)’s new #JoinTheBlendTrend approach celebrates the nutritional benefits and enhanced flavour that mushrooms lend to any dish.
Says SAMFA chairperson Ross Richardson, “ The compatibility of mushrooms with most protein options could lead to an explosive growth in mushroom consumption. Eating habits are changing, and everyone is looking at calories and costs. Adding mushrooms not only provide that healthier option; they can also save on food costs. Fresh mushrooms work for breakfast, lunch and dinner and we believe that more chefs need to include this nutrient rich produce in their shopping baskets. Umami-rich mushrooms and minced meat (red and white) blend seamlessly to provide a better nutritional profile (low calorie, low fat and low cholesterol plus high in antioxidants and vitamins that help maintain the immune system and provide an energy boost) while enhancing the flavour and ensuring diner satisfaction.”
Mushrooms can no longer be seen as fillers says Richardson, “They’re flavour-enhancing gourmet items that add nutrients whilst cutting calories, fat and cholesterol. These attributes are as attractive to many consumers as convenience. We firmly believe that they will continue to move from the side to the centre of the plate.”
Now that’s good news coming from our favourite Superfood!