19th May 2020

Prunes the perfect companion in meat-plant blends, says California Prune Board

Blending meat and plant-based ingredients in products like burgers continues to gain traction for food producers, as consumers unwilling to give up meat entirely experiment with foods that combine red meat, poultry or fish with a range of plant-based ingredients like mushrooms, sweet potatoes, or dried fruit.

A number of companies are blending meat and plant-based products amidst growing popularity for the category. The California Prune Board, which works globally to raise awareness of the sunshine state’s premium prune industry, is keen to highlight prunes as a viable inclusion for manufacturers looking for high quality, plant-based ingredients, which won’t compromise the taste or texture of the meat-plant blend. The nutritional benefits of California Prunes are also a potential lever for consumer buy-in, with just three prunes equivalent to one of the recommended ‘five a day’.

California Prunes contain sorbitol, a natural humectant, which can help add moisture to a range of dishes. Research[1], conducted for the California Prune Board at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville Food Science Department, Kansas State University and Texas A&M University, and other centres, has also demonstrated how prunes can be a useful ingredient for food producers in meat products.  As a natural phosphate replacer for example, California Prunes can help improve moisture content, extend shelf life and help produce a higher yield.

Kevin Verbruggen, European Marketing Director for the California Prune Board, says: “Research from the California Prune Board has shown prunes are an ideal functional ingredient to include when experimenting with meat-plant blends because of their succulent properties, their fibrous texture and their fantastic nutritional profile.”

Registered dietitian and nutritionist, Jennette Higgs, believes prunes can play an important role in achieving a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle and are an ideal solution for use by food producers. She says: “Prunes are free of salt, fat and saturated fat, and contain only naturally occurring sugars.  They are high in vitamin K and manganese, which contributes to the maintenance of normal bones, and 100g daily can contribute to normal bowel function. They are also high in fibre and potassium and a source of vitamin B6 and copper.”

Kevin adds: “California Prunes are renowned for their flavour and texture-enhancing qualities and pair brilliantly with meat. Packed full of fibre and other nutrients, California Prunes can also help food manufacturers appeal to health-conscious consumers.”

Peter Sidwell, chef, author and founder of the Keswick Cookery School, has created a delicious meat-plant blend recipe, which swaps out a portion of meat in favour of succulent California Prunes and tasty cashews. Discover the recipe here:https://www.californiaprunes.co.uk/recipes/asian-meatballs-with-korean-noodles-and-spring-onions/

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[1] California Prunes. Research and bulletins: meat. Available at: https://californiaprunes.org/for-partners/supply-and-procurement/research-bulletins-meat/ [accessed 11/05/20]