For every Kg of mushrooms harvested, approximately 25% is left behind and is treated as waste. This is the part of the mushroom stalk that connects the mushroom to the compost. Monaghan Mushrooms, one of the largest mushroom producers in the world, is delighted for this material to take centre stage in the FUNGUSCAIN program. The Funguschain project’s goal is to valorise these residues into high value products, including several innovative ones in the food area. To reach this we have established an appropriate cascade process that would isolate high-value biomolecules to be used in various applications.

As part of one of the main goals of the Funguschain FUNGUSCHAIN project, Monaghan took the brave first step of establishing a processing centre for the pre-treatment and stabilisation of the raw material from mushroom production.

This first step in the Funguschain cascade process yields a high protein mushroom powder with a protein content of about 24% and dietary fibres rich in flavours, converting mushroom wastes into an ideal ingredient for the food and nutraceutical sectors. Monaghan mushrooms are grown and harvested by hand. Then, through a gentle, non-invasive process, the mushrooms stalks are dried, resulting in a totally clean label, fully traceable, wholefood vegan source of nutrients, proteins, fibres, vitamins and minerals. This mushroom powder is a powerful concentration of the entire mushroom’s goodness, delivering ultimate functionality with its umami flavour, which also aids with sodium reduction. These characteristics make this product a perfect ingredient for the food and nutraceutical industry, particularly the vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, meat-free and lactose-free sectors, in products such as superfood blends, protein-enriched beverages and flavour enhancers.

Monaghan mushroom (left) and FUNGUSCHAIN protein powder (right).

As market leader in the field of processed texturizers for the gastronomy, catering, canteen kitchen as well as for private consumers, Biozoon was playing an essential role on the validation of FUNGUSCHAIN´s extracts within texture modified food / drink products. Located in Bremerhaven (Germany), Biozoon is specialized in the development of texturizers and foam generators which are added to pureed food enabling individual taste experiences for people suffering from mastication and/or swallowing disorders. Thus, after the extraction process following the innovative approach developed within the project, extracts sample characterization as well as application trials on supplementation of textured modified foods and drinks for elderly nutrition have been carried out by Biozoon. The outcomes identified promising matrices e.g. modified textured bread, sausages as well as mushroom instant sauce in powder form ready to be mixed in water, to be fortified with FUNGUSCHAIN´s extracts as well as possible future commercial applications. The characteristics of FUNGUSCHAIN high protein mushroom powder makes it particularly important for nutrition related aspects. Its incorporation into textured modified food has shown a good overall profile to be used not only as a vitamin B12 supplement but also as a vegan protein source complement, this being especially relevant for vulnerable consumers such as elderly.

FUNGUSCHAIN instant sauce in powder form

Other specialized, high value applications which are explored in the FUNGUSCHAIN project are in the area of special dietary products and functional foods. Mushroom consumption is linked to several health benefits. This includes activities that can combat obesity and its associated metabolic syndrome. Using specific cell-based assays and advanced chemical analytics BioDetection Systems has been searching for relevant activities in mushroom extracts. Compounds were identified that modulate the activity of receptors involved in fat metabolism, which could partly explain the mushroom’s health effects. Moreover, using differentiating fat cells additional components were identified that have a different mode of action. We aim to apply this knowledge to develop future high value products that help to combat obesity and metabolic syndrome.