Improving the quality of meat analogues with oat protein

The demand for meat analogues from vegetarians, vegans and flexitarians seeking to avoid or reduce their meat consumption continues to increase. Manufacturers are trying to satisfy this demand by innovating with alternative protein sources in order to be able to offer tasty products with a good texture. One such alternative source of protein is oat protein.

PrOatein is a protein with pleasant taste that can be incorporated into meat analogue applications at various inclusion levels and various stages of the production process. It is based on Swedish non-GMO oats, cultivated by Lantmännen. PrOatein can be used as a stand-alone ingredient in low- or high-moisture extrusion, as an ingredient to complement other ingredients in low- or high-moisture extrusion, or as a dry ingredient for a meat analogue formulation, using textured vegetable protein (TVP) from legumes or other protein sources.

PrOatein is a protein concentrate, naturally extracted from the whole grain oat and it contains 55% protein. The macro nutrient composition of PrOatein also offers a lipid content of 15%, carbohydrates as oat maltodextrins and fibers.

The proteins in oats have an amino acid profile typical of grains. Grains are typically high in methionine and cysteine, whilst having relatively low levels of lysine. Oat protein is higher in both lysine and the SAA cysteine and methionine than, for example, wheat protein, making it a perfect complement to the amino acid profile of pea protein, in order to have a complete amino acid profile in the finished product.

Extrusion of PrOatein oat protein

Compared to the proteins present in legumes, oat protein has a slightly higher denaturation temperature. The lipid content in PrOatein can also exert a certain lubricant effect during extrusion. However, the lipids are bound in the product's matrix, thus they have less lubricant effect than free fat. 

Therefore, in extrusion, the addition of PrOatein requires a higher temperature and higher force to achieve fibrous structures, when compared to using traditional ingredients in high- and low-moisture extrusion. The intrinsic characteristics of oat proteins in general and the fat content of PrOatein in particular will also require both conveying and reverse elements in the extruder, to allow for sufficient unfolding and folding of proteins.

When combining PrOatein with a legume protein isolate, typically of 80% concentration, a PrOatein inclusion level of 30–40% will result in an overall protein content of the dry ingredients of 60–70%, which is the optimal level for both high- and low-moisture extrusion.

PrOatein in high-moisture extrusion

PrOatein oat protein can be used as a stand-alone ingredient or in a combination with other proteins to produce a meat analogue with good fibers formation.

PrOatein in low-moisture extrusion 

PrOatein can be used in the manufacture of high-quality TVP with good texture and sensorial characteristics. Depending on the inclusion levels of oat protein, the combination with other proteins and the extrusion parameters, the material can have different arrays of color (from light yellow to beige) and different textures (from a porous material to a more compact and fibrous product). Therefore, the extruded product can be suitable for a broad range of meat and fish analogue applications, such as nuggets, hamburgers, pulled pork or vegan tuna.

PrOatein in meat analogue applications without extrusion

It is also possible to use PrOatein in products manufactured with a commercial TVP from other sources, such as pea. PrOatein can be included as a powder in the final formulation, together with the rehydrated TVP from another source, in order to increase the protein content in the final product and achieve a more complete amino acid profile.

Find out more about PrOatein