Consumer demand for plant-based cheese analogues (PCA) is growing because of the easy and versatile ways in which they can be used. However, the products available on the market are nutritionally poor. They are low in protein, high in saturated fat and sodium, and often characterized by a long list of ingredients.
A clean label spreadable plant-based cheese analogue was developed using dry-fractionated pea protein and an emulsion-filled gel composed of extra virgin olive oil and inulin, added in different concentrations as fat replacer (10%, 13% and 15% of the formulation). First, nutritional and textural analyses were performed, and the results were compared with two commercial products. The products were high in protein (134 g kg−1) and low in fat (52.2 g kg−1). The formulated PCAs had similar spreadability index to the dairy cheese but lower hardness (15.1 vs. 19.0 N) and a higher elasticity (0.60 vs. 0.35) consequent to their lower fat content (52.2 vs. 250 g kg−1). Then, dry oregano and rosemary (5 g kg−1) were added to the PCA, and sensory evaluation and analysis of volatile compounds were conducted. The addition of spices masked the legume flavor and significantly enriched the final product with aromatic compounds.
The use of dry-fractioned pea protein and of the emulsion-filled gel allowed us to develop a clean label and nutritionally valuable spreadable plant-based cheese analogue. Overall, the ingredients and product concepts developed could be used to upgrade the formulation of plant-based cheese on a larger scale. © 2022 The Authors. Journal of The Science of Food and Agriculture published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society of Chemical Industry.