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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

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