A typical bottle of Heinz ketchup contains two-thirds of a cup of sugar, or about four grams of sugar per tablespoon. Just half a cup of baked beans contains three teaspoons of sugar, about 20% of a recommended daily diet.
But, at Per Se, Chef Thomas Keller’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City, the ketchup and baked beans, which are part of a gourmet remix of some American favorites, contained zero sugar.
No cane sugar i.e. no other vilified sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup. But, the dishes were still sweet, gaining their saccharinity with a new sugar derived from fibers like wheat and corn, extracted from pods and cobs that might otherwise be thrown away. The founding team of Supplant, the company that makes the sugar, emphasizes sustainability and the health benefits because it doesn’t behave like a traditional sugar, but like the fiber we get from carrots and Brussels sprouts. . They want the product to replace sugar on a large scale in the multinational companies that make our iconic sugar-filled snacks. And Chef Thomas Keller is helping to spread the word.
The innovative team based in Cambridge, England is led by Tom Simmons, a biochemist who has spent many years studying the science of plants and carbohydrates. This scientific foundation led him to discover a way to extract sugar from the stems and stems of grains instead of sugar cane. The company grinds these stems into a pulp, then uses an enzyme from fungi to break down the longer molecular chains into shorter chains that look like sugar. When cleaned and dried, the end result is a white powder now known as Supplant. “Fiber is the most abundant source of sugar in the world,” says Simmons. “It’s just that people don’t normally think of it like that. “
It could be a game-changer in a lasting way. Pods and stems are often crushed into the ground to decompose or used as animal bedding, such as hay. But, especially in paddy fields, farmers burn rice straws to make room for the next harvest, causing smoke pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Separately, growing cane is very water-intensive, using 213 gallons per pound of refined sugar; is a major contributor to deforestation, having helped reduce Brazil’s Atlantic forest to 7% of its original size; and has been linked to habitat loss, including for various turtle species.
Because sugar is a fiber, the company claims that it behaves like fiber in the human body. It would also contain only 1.8 calories per gram against 4 for regular white sugar. It also causes less spike in blood sugar, with 15% of the glycemic index of regular sugar, which could be a huge discovery for diabetics. And, while it’s not the same as the vitamin-rich broccoli and peas on our plates, Supplant contains some of the nutritional value of fiber, a nutrient 95% of Americans don’t get enough of.
While the team had covered the science (and the investment, for a reported total of $ 27 million in October), they needed to prove that the powder would be effective for cooking. They reached out to Chef Thomas Keller, gourmet restaurateur and holder of seven Michelin stars for Per Se and his Napa Valley restaurant, French Laundry. “We don’t know much about the science behind all of this,” Keller says of his team. “They didn’t know much about the culinary part of it. We needed each other to be successful.
Keller says Supplant requires some trial and error to cook, which is more complex than a one-on-one swap. White powder does not dissolve the same way as sugar. “I wouldn’t say it acts like flour,” Keller says, “but it sure doesn’t act like sugar.” But the difference has brought some appealing attributes to some dishes. This makes ice cream more viscous, for example, than sugar doesn’t, which Keller says adds richness. In June, he debuted Supplant Ice Cream, featuring Supplant chocolate chips, in a pop-up cart outside his Napa-based Bouchon bakery.
Vanilla ice cream sundae was on the menu at the Supplant at Per Se exhibit, ending a multi-course dinner that used the sugar fibers in a sweet onion relish on a tart; in homemade ketchup for fries, accompanied by seared tuna tataki; and in a baked beans cassoulet under a saddle of lamb. In all of these savory dishes, Keller says they replaced the sugar in its entirety with Supplant.
In ice cream, however, as well as the shortbread cookies that Keller sells in his bakeries and restaurants, they use half Supplant and half sugar. For sugary snacks and desserts, Supplant isn’t sweet enough: Simmons assumes it has a quarter or a third of the sweetness of cane sugar. It’s also a 50-50 split in the chocolate bars they sell, the # 1 collaborative retail item. Keller notices how the aroma, texture and taste of the items mimic that of chocolate or shortbread made with 100% sugar. (His palate can make the distinction, but: “We’ve been tasting shortbread for 27 years.”)
In the long term, Supplant’s target is not gastronomy. Rather, it’s the multinational corporations – the Kellogg’s, the Heinzes, and the Cadbury’s – that have been processing sweet treats for generations. He wants to increase significantly and says replacing refined sugar entirely in mass processed foods is an achievable goal. “Scalability depends on the supply of raw materials,” he says, “and sugar is one of the most prevalent things. He says the company is in talks with multinationals he declined to name. But, Supplant is already present in a variety of small bakeries in the United States, including Arizona-based Sweet Republic and Alabama-based Cookie Fix.
In order to achieve the ambitions of the company, the product will have to be competitive in terms of price. The 60-gram chocolate bars are on sale for $ 19.99, which he says is due to the novelty of the collaboration with Keller, not Supplant. He recognizes that progress can be slow as it aims to change the way companies think about using long-proven formulas. But, it has the momentum of consumers who are increasingly looking for better diets and sustainable practices. “It’s not like this season is blueberry flavored and next season is raspberry flavored,” Simmons said. “This is a macro trend that is not going to go away.”