You can't revolutionize cooking with the texture of a lumpy slime: this is how they try to make cultured meat look like real meat

Lab-grown meat has everything to revolutionize food production and you know it. It is a greener, more sustainable and more ethical alternative to large-scale meat production.

What happens is that it is not easy to take the cultured meat from the Petri dish to the supermarket shelves. And it is not easy because the challenges are enormous: mass production, nutritional contents, a suitable flavor, an affordable price and, above all, a decent texture. On the latter, precisely, we have good news.

From regenerative medicine to the plate

SEAS - Harvard

A research group from Harvard University has decided to apply regenerative medicine technologies to the design of synthetic foods. At the end of the day, we too are animals and everything we know about rebuilding tissues and organs can be brought to the world of food.

In this sense, what we know as "meat" is still fatty tissue and skeletal muscle that articulates in the form of long fibers that, until now, we have not been able to reproduce in the laboratory.

As postdoctoral researcher and first author Luke Macqueen explains, "Muscle cells are adherent, which means they need something to hold on to as they grow." So to develop muscle tissues that looked like real meat, "you needed to find a material that would serve as 'scaffolding' but was edible." Allowing to produce large quantities on the road, of course.

How is a sirloin made?

Inigo de la Maza

To achieve this, the team spun gelatin fibers with a technique called immersion Rotary Jet-Spinning (iRJS) in such a way that they can mimic the extracellular matrix of natural muscle tissue while maintaining structure and ensuring texture. In this way they cultivated rabbit and veal meat that were subsequently mechanically tested.

The results pointed to similar microstructures and textures although it is true that natural meat contained many more muscle fibers. There is still much, but it is interesting that they begin to develop techniques based on bio-scaffolds that do not need serum for cultivation. This paves the way for laboratory meat generation.

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