Video: Tasting the World’s First Test-Tube Steak

Israeli-based Aleph Farms says it has created the world’s first steak grown in a lab. We got a taste.

The race is on to create lab-grown meat products. Still, little is known about their safety and potential impact. In this episode of Moving Upstream, WSJ’s Jason Bellini visits entrepreneurs, scientists, and ranchers to understand how it’s made, and gets a first taste of steak grown from cultured cells.

Watch video at The Wall Street Journal (9:58 minutes) . . . . .


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Aleph Farms Puts a Steak in the Ground, Unveils New Cell-Based Cut of Meat . . . . .

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Development of Cell-cultured Japanese Wagyu Beef to Produce Affordable Slaughter-free Meat

Chase Purdy wrote . . . . . . . . .

One of Silicon Valley’s largest food technology companies has inked a deal with one of Japan’s most revered meat producers in a bid to one day bring cell-cultured Wagyu beef to the global marketplace.

The contract, signed this month by JUST and Toriyama Ranch, is the first of its kind, marrying a high-end beef ranch to a cell-cultured meat producer. JUST will source its beef cells from actual cuts of Wagyu beef or the live cows themselves. Those cells will be transported back to JUST’s headquarters in California, where food scientists in its laboratory will work to create the cell lines needed to grow and process meat that would normally only come from pampered Wagyu beef cows.

The first products will likely be ground meat, says JUST CEO Josh Tetrick, with an eye to one day grow the kind of steak cuts that often sell for more than $100 a piece. Wagyu beef cows are raised around the world, but still represent a tiny fraction of the overall beef market. Wagyu cow meat is a rich mixture of fat and umami, and the product of more than three generations of cross-breeding. Operations tend to be much smaller than typical ranches, because, unlike the vast majority of cattle slaughtered for their meat, Wagyu cows are fed higher-cost grains and vegetarian proteins. And to achieve the fatty marbling in their meat, the cows live as stress-free as possible.

To present-day ranchers asking themselves if and how they might interact with cell-cultured meat companies, the deal sets a striking example. To date, ranchers in the American and New Zealand markets have been highly skeptical of cell-cultured meat. Many of them don’t like the idea of such products one day being branded with the word “meat” on their product packaging, and they’ve bristled at the term “clean meat,” which the nascent industry briefly adopted before shifting to the less controversial “cell-based meat.” In fact, many ranchers have taken to using the term “fake meat” when discussing the products made by their cell-cultured counterparts.

Still, massive meat companies such as Cargill, Tyson Foods, PHW Group, and Bell Food Group have invested in cell-cultured meat technology, intrigued by the idea of one day selling a new kind of protein to people increasingly hungry for alternatives to farmed animals. And if a player in the hyper-exclusive Wagyu beef market—with its patented processes for producing marbled cuts of beef—is open to collaborating with a Silicon Valley upstart, less exclusive ranching operations might be more willing to forge similar deals with other cell-cultured meat companies.

For the family-owned Toriyama ranch, the hope is that new technology will help make its high-quality beef more accessible globally. In an email, Wataru Toriyama, a top executive at the company, said he has looked for ways to expand the footprint of Wagyu beef and that the cell-cultured process offers a way to get his high-cost products in front of more people at an affordable price. Toriyama will receive a percentage of the profits JUST makes on every pound of cell-cultured Wagyu beef it produces and sells, though that number is not being disclosed publicly.

Tetrick has said he’ll get cell-cultured meat into a market somewhere in the world by the end of 2018. Until now, JUST and other cell-cultured meat companies have said their success will depend on creating a product that tastes as good as and costs as little as the conventional meat people are used to. But now Tetrick wants to take that lofty goal a step further.

“We’re gonna make a damn burger and it’s going to taste like a Wagyu burger from Japan,” he says. That changes the proposition for potential customers: they can buy conventional beef, or they can buy cell-cultured Wagyu beef for the same price. The marketing plan, in other words, is to democratize a premium food currently inaccessible and unaffordable to the vast majority of eaters in the marketplace.

In addition, by partnering with ranchers such as Toriyama, Tetrick hopes to craft a narrative that will help sell cell-cultured meat. “The meat we eat today is imbued with culture and story, and it’s got to be clear that the choice is not a Silicon Valley choice,” he says. “It’s something much larger than Silicon Valley. This is the story of actual farmers. Real farmers.”

To that end, Tetrick now plans to seek partnerships other types of high-end meat farmers. He wants to find the best pork, seafood, beef, and chicken in the world, places from which to source the cells that will be the bedrock of JUST’s eventual product offerings.

Is a cell a cell?

Before inking the deal with Toriyama, Tetrick had a basic scientific question: Is a cell from a Wagyu beef cow raised in the hills of Japan inherently better for creating a high-quality meat product than, say, a cell from a black Angus beef cow that grazes in the plains of Montana? It’s a variation on the classic nature versus nurture question.

According to several studies published on the topic, the answer is that it’s a little bit of both. Part of a cell’s ability to make a certain quality of meat is tied to genetics.

In 2016, for example, scientists examined the genomes of more than 3,000 cows belonging to the Charolaise, Limousine, and Blonde d’Aquitaine breeds. The results, published in the journal Genetics Selection Evolution, found about 206 genes impacted meat tenderness, and that if cows from different breeds are cross-bred, those genes would play a role in the overall tenderness of the meat produced. An earlier 2010 study in the journal Meat Science also said as much. And in 2017, scientists studied nearly 12,000 Japanese black cattle to investigate the relationship between meat quality traits—the marbling, color, and firmness—and fatty-acid composition. Their work, detailed in Animal Science Journal, found that genetics did play a role in how some of those traits were expressed in resulting meat.

As cell-cultured meat companies push into newer, highly-specific areas of this line of inquiry during their quest to create the types of meat consumers desire, they’ll add to this body of research.

“There’s definitely room for research and experimentation,” says JUST cell-cultured meat scientist Vítor Espírito Santo. “There are a lot of studies already, but the way we’ll pursue our strategy here has never been done before.”

The future is now

The partnership between Toriyama and JUST is the result of a year-long match-making effort by a meat-distribution company, Singapore-based Awano Food Group, which already distributes Toriyama’s Wagyu beef products and recently began distributing JUST’s plant-based scrambled-egg products in Asian markets. Awano will be responsible for distributing the meat that results from the Toriyama-JUST collaboration.

“I’ve been in the meat industry for 30 years now,” says Awano executive Rod Martin. “I think JUST’s way of thinking about the products of the future is how the world will consume protein within 20 years.”

As Wataru Toriyama puts it, people’s lives have become more diverse, and so too have their preferences. Customers aren’t just looking for good-tasting meat, he explained, but are also considering “production method, background, and producers’ philosophies behind the product.”

Even so, Toriyama says there will always be a place for animal agriculture. He does not believe the introduction of cell-cultured meat will wipe out the types of meat people today grew up eating.

“There will be a market,” he wrote. “It cannot be lost. There are special artisans to be valued. The beef produced by them is also special. They are very important as they have been supporting each country’s food culture.”

Source: QUARTZ

Video: Why Don’t Antarctic Fish Freeze to Death?

Fish living in the oceans around Antarctica seem like they should freeze to death. But notothenioids have it all figured out, thanks to the antifreeze proteins in their blood!

Watch video at You Tube (4:34 minutes) . . . .

Batter and Breading Basics for Frying

J. Kenji López-Alt wrote . . . . . . . . .

Have you ever dropped a naked, skinless chicken breast into the deep fryer? I strongly advise against it. The moment it enters a vat full of 400°F oil, a couple of things start happening. First, the water content will rapidly convert to steam, bubbling out like a geyser, and the chicken’s outer tissues become drier and drier. At the same time, the soft network of folded proteins in its musculature will begin to denature and tighten, firming its flesh and squeezing out juices. Pull it out a minute or two later, and you’ll discover that it’s become quite stiff, with a layer of desiccated meat a good quarter inch thick surrounding it. This is when you’ll quite rightfully say to yourself, “Ah, I wish I had battered that first.”

Batters are made by combining some sort of flour—usually wheat flour, though cornstarch and rice flour are not uncommon—with a liquid and optional leavening or binding ingredients, like eggs and baking powder. They coat foods in a thick, goopy layer. Breadings consist of multiple layers. Generally, a single layer of flour is applied directly to the food to ensure that its surface is dry and rough, so that the second layer—the liquid binder—will adhere properly. That layer generally consists of beaten eggs or a dairy product of some kind. The last layer gives the food texture. It can consist of a plain ground grain (like the flour or cornmeal in a traditional fried chicken breading), ground nuts, or any number of dry ground bread or bread-like products, such as bread crumbs, crackers, or breakfast cereals.

No matter how your breading or batter is constructed, it serves the same function: Adding a layer of “stuff” around the item being fried means the oil has a tough time coming in direct contact with it, and thus has a hard time transferring energy to it. All the energy being transferred to the food has to go through the medium of a thick, air-pocket-filled coating. Just as the air-filled insulation in your house helps mitigate the effects of harsh external conditions on the air temperature inside, so do batters and breadings help the food underneath cook more gently and evenly, rather than burning or becoming desiccated by the fiercely energetic oil.

Of course, while the food inside is gently cooking, the precise opposite is happening to the batter or breading: It’s drying out, and its structure is getting firmer and firmer. Frying is essentially a drying process. Batters and breadings are formulated to dry out in a particularly graceful way. Rather than burning or turning leathery, a nice airy batter forms a delicately crisp, air-filled web of teeny-tiny bubbles—a solid foam that provides substance and crunch.

Breadings work similarly, though, rather than foamy in structure, they’re craggy. The nooks and crannies in a good bread-crumb coating vastly increase the surface area of the food being fried, giving you more crunch in each bite. In the ideal world, a batter or breading becomes perfectly crisp just as the food inside—say, a slice of onion or a delicate piece of fish—approaches the ideal level of doneness. Achieving this balance is the mark of a good fry cook.

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Read more at Serious Eat . . . . .

Video: Some Chemistry Related Facts of Your Thanksgiving Meal

Watch video at You Tube (2:35 minutes) . . . . .