The firm’s MycoSmooth process uses Reishi mushrooms, a strain of gourmet mushrooms used in Eastern medicine, to eliminate bitter compounds in cocoa.
MycoTechnology is licencing its technology for companies to use in their own plants or can supply MycoSmooth chocolate.
Speaking to ConfectioneryNews, Alan Hahn, CEO and founder of MycoTechnology: “Chocolate is naturally bitter. What happens in the industry to get it to a point where it’s edible is that you have to add something.”
Sugar, fat and vanilla are common masking ingredients in chocolate, but add extra calories.
Hahn said that major chocolate companies had already licensed his technology and were exploring how they could reduce calorie-rich masking ingredients.
The chocolate firms must add other ingredients to compensate for the loss of bulking function and mouthfeel from reduced sugar. They are keeping formulations closely guarded, even from Hahn.
“They’re all being very secretive with their formulations – they are not sharing,” he said.
The MycoTechnology founder said that a cake firm had achieved a 70% sugar reduction using MycoSmooth cocoa powder. “Since the powder is less bitter they are using less sugar in their cake mix and are adding more flour.”
He added that the company had saved costs since flour was cheaper than sugar.
The four-step MycoSmooth process takes around two weeks. First, cocoa beans are sterilized to remove unwanted bacteria. Next the beans are sprayed with liquid form Reishi mushrooms and the beans are then myceliated and monitored until the mushrooms consume the bitter compounds.
Myceliation is when mushrooms use their root system called the mycelium to interact with their food source – in this case bitter compounds in cocoa beans. The beans are then dried and roasted as normal.
“My concern was that there would be a big delay in the manufacturing process, but it doesn’t work that way,” said Hahn.
He said that cocoa was purchased in advance and stored in manufacturer’s facilities, which allowed the process to get underway without delays to manufacturing.
“The production cost is pretty low. You’re really adding pennies to a pound and will save money on the sugar side of it. But you may add cost if you add more cocoa.”
Hahn said that he had been eating sugar free, 100% cocoa chocolate made through the process.
He added that the process opened up new flavor possibilities. “When you don’t have the bitterness you bring out other natural flavors.”
MycoTechnology, established in March 2013, and had already been using a similar process to reduce bitterness in coffee.