Mycoprotein was named by the UK Food Standards Committee in 1974, the culmination of a study by Rank Hovis McDougall of 3,000 soil organisms that might have food potential. The chosen organism was Fusarium venenatum, a filamentous fungus that can be manufactured into a meat-free protein.
What Is Mycoprotein?
Fusarium venenatum belongs to one of the largest group of fungi, ascomycota, which includes truffles and morels. It can be manufactured to resemble meat and is approved by the Vegetarian Society. It is low in saturated fat and a source of protein, dietary fibre, biotin, iron and zinc.
Mycoprotein is manufactured by fermentation of the fungus in 40-meter-high fermentation towers, fed on glucose, oxygen, nitrogen, vitamins and minerals. Mycoprotein solids are removed continuously, heated, then centrifuged to remove water. The resultant material is mixed with free-range egg and seasoning, steam cooked, cooled and then processed into chunks or mince. Freezing helps push fibres together, creating the meat-like structure.
Mycoprotein pieces and mince are sold under the Quorn brand and appear in a range of over 100 products, from frankfurters and deli slices to fillets, curries, pies and casseroles.