Vegetarian and vegan burgers, they’re on many processors’ minds. Andria Long, vice president of innovation and consumer insight, Johnsonville, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, said, “It’s on our radar. But we would not do it with the Johnsonville brand.”
At the first of the year, White Castle, Columbus, Ohio, brought back Dr. Praeger’s Black Bean Slider, to helps diners stick to their healthy-eating resolutions. Only available until Feb. 10, or while supplies last, the black bean slider joins the fast-food chain’s vegetarian burgers, both selling for 99 cents.
Black beans tend to be the preferred dried beans to make patties and other meat analogs, as black beans have a thin skin that remains with the bean after soaking. The skin of many other beans after hydration, separate from the bean and can impact the finished product’s texture. Black beans also have a rich, umami-like flavor suggestive of ground beef. The color helps, too.
Beans are classified as pulses, a category of food ingredients that includes the dried seeds of plants from the legume family, such as peas, edible beans, lentils and chickpeas. They have strong ties to many ethnic cuisines, most notably Indian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern.
Inherently gluten free and vegetarian, pulses have special properties that make them particularly attractive to today’s health-conscious consumers. They are naturally very high in protein and dietary fiber, and are a rich source of minerals, including iron, zinc and phosphorus, and a source of B vitamins and folic acid. Pulses are considered non-allergenic proteins that are non-genetically modified and have a low-glycemic index. They’ve been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and help with weight loss. In other words, they are powerhouse foods and food ingredients.
Pulses.org, offers numerous recipes for vegetarian burgers that can serve as a base for industrial scale up. For example, there’s a lentil mushroom burger that also includes garbanzo bean powder. Such powder or flour forms of pulses eliminate any sensory impact of skins. In such a recipe, the mushrooms assist with color, flavor and texture.