Chocolate too bitter? Use mushrooms, not sugar

An upstart US food technology company has developed a unique fermentation process using mushrooms.

That's right. The fungi can reduce bitterness in cocoa beans and cut sugar content in chocolate candy.

A year after first launching its fermentation method, one of the world's biggest commodity markets, MycoTechnology Inc, is expanding into cocoa. It will launch the process on Tuesday.

While the market may be small now, there's big potential, 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 MycoTechnology's chief executive Alan Hahn.

"Particularly with chocolate, the bitterness is a big issue," he added. "We removed that bitterness and the need for sugar is reduced drastically."

Photos: Anis Chocolate, ST File Photo

About half of the average milk chocolate bar is made of sugar, industry experts said.

The MycoSmooth technology can halve the amount of sugar needed in the average chocolate bar, from 31 grams to about 15 grams.

The company is in talks with "major chocolate players" in the United States, but Mr Hahn declined to name them.

From its Denver headquarters, the company will start processing its own beans and those on behalf of its customers. It will also license out the technology.

The process will compete with other more widely used methods, including the "Dutching" process. Developed in the 1800s, it modifies the bean's taste with an alkalizing agent.

Source: Reuters