A lighter delicacy
Turning waste chicken feathers from the poultry industry into an alternative and lean source of edible protein.
This project proposes an alternative way to manage the 2.3 million tonnes of EU feather waste from slaughterhouses by converting its nutrient component into a new edible product. Chemically, chicken feathers are composed of approximately 91% protein (keratin) which contains up to eight types of essential amino acids that we require as part of a healthy diet. It has been proven that keratin protein from feathers is safe for general consumption within our daily diet.
By extracting these essential proteins from the feathers, they have developed a new ‘melt-in-the-mouth' food product that is completely safe, light in calories and provides us with the essential amino acids we require in daily life. Due to the melt-in-the-mouth property, it introduces a new slow dining experience that would benefit to food resources and reduce the climate problem. Consuming edible feathers may pioneer a food culture that symbolises self-development and presents empathetic responses to the world. It could be a new food culture that expresses its belief, what it stands for, social belonging and cultural identity. Consequently, ‘A lighter delicacy’ could be contributing as a tool of achieving a sustainable future.
1. Keratin extraction
Biological Keratin treatment - Enzymatic treatments
Biological treatment requires microbial keratinolysis treatment employs microorganisms that produce enzymes to break the rigid and strongly cross-linked keratin structure in feathers called "Keratinase". Keratinase is a particular class of extracellular proteolytic inducible enzyme with the capability of degrading insoluble keratin substrates. In this study, Bacillus licheniformis Keratinase is selected and supplied by ‘Creative Enzymes’, the enzyme manufacturing company based in New York.
2. Sculpting alternative meat
The experiment in this section are mostly looking to replicate the tenderness texture and pleasant mouth feel found in high quality food for this alternative protein.
Collagen content in high quality meat protein affects flexibility and firmness. In order to mimic the collagen property, I constructed a sponge structure in food to encapsulate the air inside. On a smaller scale, the air was supported between mini scaffolding structures which minimises the density of food. Accordingly, the structure created the firmness and lightness properties in food. In the meantime, it also increased the flexibility as a same behaviour of collagen content in food.
Since knowing melt-in-the-mouth texture in food conducted by low melting point and dissolvability speed of fat and its binders, I then found a way to replicate the feel of fat and souring suitable food binders to reproduce the feeling of meat. As the sponge structure promoted light weight, the structure also played a role to allow salivation to flood the air out when we take a bite. This method would speed up the dissolvability rate in the mouth which affected the reduction time of mastication. The protein would then become more easily to swallow.
Moreover, all selected food binders have a lower melting point than human body temperature and is low in sugar and sodium content. Under these circumstances, the physical and chemical aspects of making could contribute to a melt-in-the-mouth texture, able to substitute fat in food and tricked our food perception senses.
Text submitted by the maker
Professor Keshavan Niranjan, Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading Dr. Shem Johnson, Specialist Technician, Grow Lab at Central Saint Martins An enzyme supplier, Creative Enzymes company, New York
Pichaya Sampanvejsobha and Prod Bangkok Co Ltd