News / Science & Technology

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

FILE - A shiitake mushroom is seen inside a greenhouse at the Anzai family farm in northern Japan, April 5, 2011.
FILE - A shiitake mushroom is seen inside a greenhouse at the Anzai family farm in northern Japan, April 5, 2011.
Reuters

An upstart U.S. food technology company has developed a unique fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans that it believes will cut sugar content in chocolate candy.

A year after first launching its fermentation method to reduce bitterness in coffee beans, one of the world's biggest commodity markets, MycoTechnology, Inc. is expanding into cocoa and will launch its process on Tuesday.

The market is smaller, but the potential may be bigger with health-conscious consumers seeking lower-calorie foods amid mounting concerns about obesity and diabetes.

“We use mushrooms that we train specifically to remove unwanted aspects of food and infuse it with the natural health benefits of the mushroom,” said Alan Hahn, chief executive of MycoTechnology, Inc, formed in 2013 in Denver, Colorado.

“Particularly with chocolate, the bitterness is a big issue. We remove that bitterness and the need for sugar is reduced drastically.”

A light almond cream chocolate candy carries the initials for Russell Stover Candies as shown in Kansas City, Kansas, July 14, 2014.A light almond cream chocolate candy carries the initials for Russell Stover Candies as shown in Kansas City, Kansas, July 14, 2014.
x
A light almond cream chocolate candy carries the initials for Russell Stover Candies as shown in Kansas City, Kansas, July 14, 2014.
A light almond cream chocolate candy carries the initials for Russell Stover Candies as shown in Kansas City, Kansas, July 14, 2014.

​About half of the average milk chocolate bar is made of sugar, according to industry experts. Hahn said his MycoSmooth technology, invented by the company's chief science officer Brooks J. Kelly, can cut the amount of sugar needed in the average chocolate bar by half, from 31 grams to about 15 grams.

The company is in talks with “major chocolate players” in the United States, but Hahn declined to name them.

From its Denver headquarters, the company will start processing its own beans as well as those on behalf of its customers and will license out the technology.

The process will compete with other more widely used methods, including the “Dutching” process that was developed in the 1800s and modifies the bean's taste with an alkalizing agent.

MycoTechnology's chemical-free process reduces the bitterness, rather than masking it, at minimal cost. It adds “pennies per lb” to the cost of cocoa, Hahn said.

Coffee to Cocoa

MycoTechnology's chocolate plans may, however, not be as simple as they first appear.

Cutting the sugar content may pose new hurdles for confectionery makers if they cut sugar use and replace it with higher cocoa or milk content. Both are more expensive than sugar.

“If you wind up taking sugar out and raising the [cocoa] liquor content, you will raise the fat content of the bar, which will be higher calories,” said Ed Seguine, president of Seguine Cacao Cocoa & Chocolate Advisors in Hanover, Pennsylvania, with over 30 years' experience in chocolate product research.

“It doesn't make economic sense because you've got to put something in its place,” Seguine said.

After coffee and cocoa, MycoTechnology is looking at widening the use of its procedure to bulk agricultural markets like rice and other grains.

In the process, MycoTechnology takes fermented beans, sterilizes them and then inoculates them with their unique strains of mushroom root systems that have been trained specifically to remove bitterness.

The beans are then placed in a sealed bag and for the following seven to 21 days, the roots do their work. Mushrooms naturally feed on moisture, oxygen and sugars.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid