Woolworths stocks Hollywood's favourite plant-based 'beef' - here's how it tastes
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A very convincing beef mince alternative that’s entirely made from plant-based ingredients has hit Australian supermarket shelves for the first time today.
Impossible Beef Made with Plants, as it’s called, has been backed by a slew of Hollywood celebrities including Katy Perry, Jay Z and Mindy Kaling, who invested in its parent company, Impossible Foods, back in 2019 to expand the production of its meat-free mince.
Aussie burger chain Grill’d got on board at the end of last year and started using the product to make its plant-based Impossible Burgers, and now the product is available to shoppers as pre-made burger patties or as a more versatile, plant-based mince, at Woolworths.
So, what does it taste like?
Despite not having that wavy look that we’re used to seeing in mince, Impossible Beef has a very similar colour and appearance to minced beef when you see it on the shelf, but it’s the way it tastes that really surprises.
The product is soy based but replicates heme - an iron-containing molecule that’s abundant in animal protein - as well as the vitamins, amino acids, and sugars found in meat, to make it taste incredibly similar to the real thing.
I gave this product a test run at home and both my husband and I were shocked at how similar it tasted to regular mince. I should mention here that we’re both normally meat eaters and have never previously cooked with meat alternative products at home.
Using the Impossible Beef as a direct substitute for minced meat, I used it to make two of our regular weekly dishes; meatballs in tomato sauce and a stir fried cabbage and mince dish, and in both I thought the Impossible Beef was a very convincing alternative.
It really shone in the meatballs which had a very similar colour, texture and taste to regular meatballs. As per the cooking instructions, I pulled them off the stove when the internal temperature of the meatballs reached 71 degrees, and they ended up being super juicy and moist.
Really thinking about it, I did notice that there’s more of a soy aftertaste when compared to regular meatballs, and there’s a bit of a sweet, umami element to it that isn’t present in beef, but I thought that only added to its deliciousness.
As someone who has never tried cooking with meat alternatives, I also purchased a different brand of plant-based mince made from pea protein for comparison, but was so unimpressed with the taste and smell of those meatballs that I didn’t finish them.
I remain convinced however, that if I served my Impossible Beef meatballs to my Italian family and didn’t tell them that they’re meat-free, there’s no chance they’d guess.
One other point that I’ll mention is that I normally buy beef and pork mince mix as I find beef alone can be a bit dry without the extra fat content from the pork, and would say that in my opinion, the Impossible Beef compares more closely to a beef and pork mince than a straight beef mince.
Meat-like products becoming increasingly popular
There’s been an innovation boom in the plant-based food sector in recent years to cater to the increasing number of shoppers looking for more sustainable and environmentally friendly food options.
As a plant-based product, Impossible Beef says it uses 96 per cent less land, 87 percent less water and creates 89 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than regular beef production. Not to mention that no animals are killed in the process.
It also has 40 per cent less saturated fat than beef mince and has been given a four-out-of-five star health rating.
It is more expensive than beef however, and a 340g packet is priced at $11.25 at Woolworths, which makes it $33 a kilo compared to the $16 to $23 a kilo you’d pay for a 500g packet of minced beef depending on the meat quality and fat content.
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