Meatless Burgers – A Review
A Service to our Readers
There has been such a lot of talk and adverts for “plant based” faux-meat in the past weeks that we decided to give them a try. Firstly, I need to say that we are not burger eaters of any sort. Occasionally in a restaurant (that’s a restaurant, not a Macdonalds type greasy-spoon outfit which nothing would get us into after an experience which involved disconcertingly sticky floors) and even less frequently a home made one from real steak, which is our gold reference standard. I’d rather have tried a faux-meat steak than a faux-meat burger but you go with what you’ve got and what the market had this week were burgers.
There was a comparative tasting article in the Guardian a few days ago that said the “Beyond Meat” brand were far and away the closest to the real thing and that, fortunately, was what we found. Just $8 for two burgers, seemed fair.
First complaint. The burgers were made by a mega-funded Californian corporation claiming to be green and promoting environmental concerns and all those things we care about. They get marks for that. The burgers came in a cardboard sleeve – marks for that also. Inside the sleeve was a black plastic molded tray wrapped in clear plastic film … many negative marks awarded. Black plastic is just the worst – not recyclable. How could they do that? Sigh.
So, Sunday evening and the BBQ is warming up. These burgers could well be inedible so we also grilled some pork chops, “just in case”. Here’s what we found once the layers of plastic had been removed …
Uncooked, the burgers (technically, I believe at this stage they are called patties but I dislike that word so will not use it again) looked pale pink and rather unappetizing. They were wet and not meat-like at all. Fortunately they were sitting on small pieces of waxed paper which at least made their handling easier than I would have expected.
Slapped them on the hot grid for the suggested 4 minutes a side. At this point they disgorged a moderate amount of unidentified liquid that started bubbling and browning and, it has to be said, a smell of cooking meat-like substance arose. I assume that liquid was some veggie fat, probably saturated fat. My prior reading tells me that these things contain heme produced by genetically modified yeast and that it’s the heme that gives the meaty aroma.
A quibble. The packaging proudly states that these burgers contain no GMO content. Now, I bow to nobody in my support for GMO foods – they have many benefits and zero risks to my health or that of anyone else (science, you know) – but I do expect marketing claims to be accurate. Seems to me that while technically there are no GMO yeast cells in the burgers there are the products of GMOs, the heme, so this is a little bit of misdirection for those who wish to avoid GMOs at all. Anyway, I digress – back to the food.
They looked and smelled burger-like – albeit cheap, factory burger-like. Actually quite appetising, Plated alongside the pork shops and surrounded by BBQ-cooked fries (chips for the Brits) and freshly cooked ratatouille. If not a meal fit for a king it was one I was looking forward to.
And finally, the taste test. Surprisingly good – isn’t food technology a wonderful thing. You should read up on how these are made – between “plant based” ingredients and your plate there is a remarkable amount of very highly complex technology indeed. nothing natural about these guys once the peas have been harvested. Yes, tasty albeit with a hint of something leguminous hovering on the tongue. The texture was really quite burger-like. Marks for effort – 7/10.
But I preferred the pork chop.
I would eat one of these again, but I suspect they would be more meat-like if hidden in a bread roll with onions and probably a slice of cheese.
Up to you now if you want to try these yourselves – it was interesting, rather better than I expected but I am still waiting for the “plant based” steak substitute to reach the market. There is work yet to be done in the food laboratory and they really, really need to get rid of that plastic packaging – big negative for the sort of people who care enough about what they eat to try one of these.
I’d be interested in your thoughts … ?