a bit about… Transglutaminase, the “Meat Glue”

•August 10, 2010 • 1 Comment

Lately I’ve been working in the lab with the enzyme transglutaminase, notable for its use in the food industry and the molecular gastronomy persuasion of fine dining.

The transglutaminase I am working with, and the one used most often in food applications, is the fermentation product of the bacterium Streptoverticillium mobaraense. Activa RM produced by Ajinomoto Company Inc. seems to be the most popular formulation (Ajinomoto commercialized MSG over a hundred years ago, is the largest manufacturer of aspartame, and provides many other amino acid products for food, pharmaceutical and lab applications.)

The enzyme catalyzes the formation of bonds in proteins (any proteins: meat, dairy, tofu, eggs, wheat, wool, hair…) and therefore can be exploited in multifarious industrial applications:

-to make dairy products creamier

-to alter the texture and water holding capacity of emulsified meat products

-to create restructured meats (for cold cuts, portion control, unprofitably small pieces of meat)

-to increase the lift and shelf life of puff pastry

-to increase wool and fabric strength

The culinary possibilities for this enzyme are equally numerous and diverse. Often, transglutaminase is used to stick different meats to one another, (“surf and turf” and “turducken” bring new imagery to mind) and many food bloggers have done this at least once.

Heston Blumenthal and Wylie Dufresne, the star chefs who brought the enzyme to the kitchen, have used it to alter textures and push boundaries for what can be done with meat. Dufresne, for instance, made the famous shrimp noodles from 99% shrimp…a low carb pasta option.

I’ve heard Ajinomoto might send a sample to you for free if you ask nicely enough. Thicken your protein shake! Make yogurt bars! Craft artistic harlequin sushi with purely seafood! Stick bacon to anything!  Mosaic steaks and sandwich meats! The possibilities are really endless.

DVAS “Society” CD out today!

•July 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

New CD by DVAS released today with cover design by myself! In stores and on iTunes.

New Harvest includes my paper in “Resources”

•April 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

New Harvest, a “nonprofit research organization working to develop new meat substitutes, including cultured meat” has included my paper on its list of technical resources. Please follow this link to retrieve a copy of my paper for free!

Special thanks to Jason Matheny, founder of New Harvest, for his support and encouragement, from the very beginning, to contribute my paper to the small scientific body of work regarding in vitro meat. It was he who connected me to every relevant scientist in the field while my paper was still in its infant stage.

Guest Lecturer @ U of A

•March 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Thanks to Dr. Mirko Betti, I was invited to return to the University of Alberta campus as a guest lecturer! The “Muscle Food Science & Technology” graduate class were presented with my take on the possibilities of in vitro meat production systems. Certainly preparing a lecture and slides for this was nothing like preparing for my Pecha Kucha presentation! Now to prepare exam questions…

“Possibilities for an in-vitro meat production system” – Published!

•January 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Innovative Food Science & Emerging TechnologiesElsevier’s food science journal Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies has published my  first authored review article “Possibilties for an in vitro meat production system” in their January 2010 issue.

Here is the abstract:

“Meat produced in vitro has been proposed as a humane, safe and environmentally beneficial alternative to slaughtered animal flesh as a source of nutritional muscle tissue. The basic methodology of an in vitro meat production system (IMPS) involves culturing muscle tissue in a liquid medium on a large scale. Each component of the system offers an array of options which are described taking into account recent advances in relevant research. A major advantage of an IMPS is that the conditions are controlled and manipulatable. Limitations discussed include meeting nutritional requirements and large scale operation. The direction of further research and prospects regarding the future of in vitro meat production will be speculated.”

Please read the article and provide your comments and critique!

PKN5 in the Gateway

•October 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Here is a photo of me doing my Pecha Kucha Presenation at the Myer Horowitz theatre, on the cover of the University of Alberta student newspaper.

In vitro meat possibilities @ Pecha Kucha Edmonton

•October 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Pecha  Kucha Edmonton held their fifth volume October 2, 2009 and I was ecstatic to present my research about in vitro meat at the Myer Horowitz theatre on campus at the University of Alberta to an audience of over 550 people!

The format of the presentation is 20 images, 20 seconds per image so it was definitely a fast paced introduction to my topic. To give a lasting impression on the wide-ranging audience, I chose to use very bold imagery and minimal scientific language in an attempt to address all the possible questions people could have about such a concept. The presentation was met with great reception from the audience and organizers and I hope to be speaking about it again soon!