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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid