Everybody would love to cut back on sugar, but for most, downing a cup of unsweetened dark roast in the a.m. is just not worth it. Luckily, one Colorado lab is proving that the solution to the dilemma might have been right under our noses all along. Or, at least, in the produce section.
Using exclusively the vegetative part of the mushroom found underground – called mycelium – researchers at MycoTechnology have successfully created a powder that works to desensitize taste buds to the bitterness in things like chocolate. While people use sugar – and, increasingly, sugar alternatives like honey, agave, etc. – to mask the taste of things that are naturally bitter, like coffee or some wheat flours, mushrooms can actually help make those bitter elements of the diet taste a little more tolerable. More importantly, they do it not by covering up the bitterness, which is essentially what sweetening agents do, but by blocking it altogether.
And, unless it’s used in super concentrated quantities (which is really never necessary), the powder remains entirely flavorless itself, making it the perfect addition to any food or drink in need of a little bitter blocking (think coffee and chocolate, sure, but also fruits and veggies like grapefruit and arugula).
“We get new ideas every week for new ways to use it,” says Lanagan, who notes that Mycotechnology’s mushroom-based powder can improve the natural flavor of everything from dairy to flour-based foods.
Mycotechnology, which has been shaking up the food scene with its sugar industry-disrupting tech since 2015, just exceeded its $40-million target in its most recent round of funding.
While the product has thus far been available exclusively to commercial retailers through different partnerships, like that with stevia manufacturer GLG Life Tech, Lanagan certainly sees the potential for the company’s powder to make its way to supermarket shelves for consumers.
“This is something that could feasibly be the kind of product that you just sprinkle a little bit of on something like a grapefruit to make it taste better,” he says. “Kind of like a ‘Bitter Be Gone’ powder or something.”
Needless to say, any technology that makes sugar-free chocolate bars and coffee actually taste good is certainly one we’ll be keeping our eyes on.