Milk alternatives should be similar to milk
There is a growing demand from consumers for alternatives to conventional milk products. In recent years this has led to milklike drinks being commercially produced from soybeans, rice, and oats. These are predominantly aimed at vegans and those who, for health reasons, have to adhere to diets free of milk protein and lactose. These alternative products generally have odor and taste profiles, typically characterized as bean-like, bitter, and wheat-like, which some consumers find unpleasant. This is due to the raw materials. GM issues also mean that soy-based products are not universally accepted.
The objective of the development work of the Fraunhofer IVV was to develop a milk-like drink based on lupine protein which has nutri-physiological and sensory properties akin to cow‘s milk.
Lupins as raw material for plant based milk
The raw materials used were non-GM lupines cultivated in Germany. High-quality plant proteins were recovered from the lupine seeds. The process that was used for this was developed at the Fraunhofer IVV over several years. This work involved optimization of the technical recovery process and optimization of the sensory properties of the protein products.
The lupine protein for the development of the milk-like drink was supplied by Prolupin GmbH, a spin-off of the Fraunhofer IVV. This protein is already used in “Lupinesse”, the plant protein based ice cream which was successfully commercialized more than two years ago.
Development of a sensory optimized milk alternative
The excellent emulsifying properties of the lupine protein allowed a full-bodied milk-like drink to be produced. Vital for the quality and stability of the lupine drink are the process parameters used for the homogenization and heating steps. Special attention was also put on studies with respect to food safety, because the lupine drink has different microbial flora to cow‘s milk.
The result of the R&D work is a tasty plant-based milk-like drink with appealing sensory properties which is expected to be widely accepted by consumers. The process for manufacturing the lupine drink, and in particular optimizing the sensory properties, has been patented. The sensory and physico-chemical properties of the lupine drink and its microbiological safety provide the foundation for the development of other lupine protein based products such as yoghurts, desserts, and cream cheese.