Algae-ased vegan egg scrambles like chicken egg

[USA] As sustainability and free-from appeal continues to drive interest in egg replacers, Follow Your Heart (Canoga Park, CA) is debuting its new algae-based VeganEgg egg-replacement finished product, which it says is the “first of its kind to scramble, bake, and cook just like a chicken egg.”

VeganEgg first hit select shelves in late 2015, but the full launch took place at the recent Natural Products Expo West trade show. Made from whole algal protein, whole algal flour, carrageenan, yeast, sea salt, cellulose gum, gellan gum, and calcium lactate, VeganEgg is perhaps most notable for being well suited for scrambling, an application that has proven challenging for many egg replacers in the past.

Katie Franklin, director of marketing for Follow Your Heart, says her company’s R&D team recently developed technology that makes scrambling of the algae-based egg replacement possible—a major “Ah-Ha!” moment. With that recipe now possible, the sky seems to be the limit on applications for VeganEgg, she explains.

“You can bake with it and emulsify it anywhere you would crack an egg,” Franklin told Nutritional Outlook. “We’ve made cakes, quiches, frittattas, salad dressings—anything you would do with an egg.”

Last year’s egg crisis helped push up the timeline for VeganEgg’s launch, notes Franklin, but she says it’s always been Follow Your Heart’s “holy grail” to figure out how to make a vegan, plant-based egg. The product contains 2g of protein and 4g of calcium, is relatively neutral in taste, and even comes in a light yellow color thanks to Follow Your Heart’s dark algae cultivation process.

“Algae, as you know, is usually green, but by growing it in the dark it doesn’t go through the same photosynthesis process,” says Franklin. “So you get that natural eggy color too. We don’t have to add anything in that regard.”

To use the VeganEgg, which comes in a carton-like packaging, consumers only have to blend a bag of powder with ice-cold water to produce “the equivalent of cracking a whole egg,” Franklin says. It takes a little bit longer to cook than chicken eggs (6–8 minutes instead of 2–3 minutes), and it currently costs about $7.50 per dozen VeganEggs.

But unlike chicken eggs, VeganEgg can tap into strong sustainability message. It takes the same amount of water to produce 100 VeganEggs as it does to produce a single chicken egg, according to Follow Your Heart.

The VeganEgg also has a shelf life of up to six months without being refrigerated, although some retailers “are actually merchandising it with eggs in the cooler,” Franklin explains.

Follow Your Heart is also looking at industrial uses for its VeganEgg, with some food manufacturers already expressing interest in using it for baking products. Gardein, for instance, is working on formulating VeganEgg in a breakfast sandwich, says Franklin.

 

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