When it comes to the future of the world’s food supply, finding clever alternatives to current favourites is one key priority. Soy and almond milk are now crowding out store shelves, meat substitutes are being concocted in ever more creative ways, and wild new ingredients are being investigated by professionals the world over.
Everything from lab-grown meat to seaweed, algae, and even bugs have been making their way to adventurous palates—but there’s another option that many in the food industry are growing increasingly interested in: the humble jellyfish.
If you’re interested in the future of food technology, here are some new findings to chew on.
Why Professionals With Food Technology Training Are Turning to Jellies
Feeding a growing population is no easy task, especially given that many ecosystems around the planet are already being stressed to their limit. In fact, the world’s oceans are a prime example of just how serious this problem can be, with many fisheries reporting dwindling catches and some—such as the cod fishery in Newfoundland—having already collapsed altogether.
While many efforts are underway to help some of these fisheries recover, alternative food sources could be an important part of the puzzle. For this reason, many within the food industry have been turning their attention to jellyfish, whose numbers are reportedly growing at alarming rates.
Jellyfish blooms, which can include thousands of individuals, have become more and more frequent as well as problematic over recent years. In the Philippines and Japan, they have been responsible for clogging up power station cooling valves and creating power outages. In Australia, they have been stinging more and more beachgoers. And in the Black Sea, a particularly prolific variety of comb jellyfish nearly wiped out fish populations. With jellyfish becoming a problematic nuisance, and current fish stocks in need of a breather, many feel that adding jellyfish to the menu offers both a tasty option for consumers and a sustainable solution for the environment.
Grads of Food Technology Training Know Many Will Enjoy this Tasty Food Item
Of course, as students in food technology training well know, there are many important concerns that need to be addressed when developing new foods for consumers. For one, there needs to be some interest on the part of consumers. Fortunately, in this regard, jellyfish are well positioned. Sustainability is at the forefront of many a buyer’s mind, with this concern becoming one of the top driving forces affecting customer choices.
In addition, jellyfish have also been a tasty staple in Japanese and Chinese cuisine for centuries. Jellyfish have been described as having a very mild flavour reminiscent of fresh squid, meaning that concerns over flavour and texture likely won’t be driving consumers away.
Practical Concerns With Processing Jellyfish
Professionals with a diploma in food safety know, though, that these concerns are only part of the equation. Jellyfish still need to be processed before they can safely sit on store shelves. Due to their high water content and mucus membranes, jellyfish can quickly begin to decompose after being caught by fishermen. Carefully cleaning and then soaking them in brine prevents this issue, and can allow them to stay tasty and safe for close to a year after packaging.
However, one ingredient used during this process, known as alum, has been the subject of recent controversy. This ingredient, which gives pickles their signature crunch, has been linked to negative health outcomes such as dementia. For this reason, health-conscious buyers might not want to sink their teeth into this tasty option just yet. Finding a healthier alternative to alum could be an important breakthrough that could help make jellyfish a favourite the world over.
Are you interested in learning more about food processing, product development, and more?
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