Another cool food innovation based on oats!

March 29th 2019

It’s no secret that here at Queal, we’re big fans of oats. We get very excited every time we see a new oat-based food innovation passing by and remain surprised about the crop’s versatility. And although we have to admit this subject does not sound very appealing in the first place, it’s still something worth a post as the idea and technique used is just so ingenious. Ever heard about fermented oat cheese?

What is it?

Ok, technically it’s not cheese. But that’s part of what makes it so inspirational. All over the world, more and more people are seeking for plant-based alternatives to - traditionally - animal-based products. Some because they decided to become vegan, others because they want to make more environmentally- and/or animal-friendly choices now and then or they don’t like the animal-based product taste-wise. Fortunately, the market is responding to this and more research and product development gets done.

You might have heard about vegan alternatives to cheese already, which are mainly made from coconut oil, nutritional yeast, nuts and/or potato starch. Multiple businesses have succeeded to create a plant-based alternative that tastes like the real deal this way, but most of them are quite highly processed. Also, when it comes to coconut oil as an ingredient, the question is if producers can keep up with an already growing - and possibly even higher - demand. Also, coconut is a tropical fruit species, thus has to be imported from countries like Indonesia, India, Brazil and Sri Lanka, for us to use it in our vegan cheeses.

Research chef Maynard Kolskog’s, The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s and the Oat Growers Association in Canada’s motivation for creating a (blue) cheese out of fermented oats was to see if a reasonably priced and local crop could also work. And guess what? It worked!

By using fractionated oats, where the whole grain is separated into protein and fibre, nutritional yeast and of course the probiotics causing fermentation, they succeeded in developing a plant-based kind of blue cheese. Interesting, right?

Why is it cool?

We started digging more into the subject of oat fermentation and it turned that the technique is more widely used for other forms of plant-based dairy-like innovations. Oatly, the Swedish creator of oat milk you might now uses the technique to create their Oatgurt, Oat Fraiche and Oat Spreads. All kinds of dairy alternatives, “the ones with the good animal-free karma”, as stated by Oatly.

As already mentioned in the preview of this blog post, we’re big oat fans here. We use oat flour is our shakes and - of course - our instant oatmeal because of the high nutritional content and the crop’s miscellaneous character. We’re still surprised every time a new oat-based food innovation passes by but actually, it is no wonder: they’re just so applicable.

Does it have future growth potential?

In very short: yes. At least, we think and hope so! Besides being an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, oats are a very protein-rich grain and therefore suitable for well… plant-based protein alternatives. Alternatives that could help us to switch to a more plant-based eating pattern, which will be a good thing when it comes to animal welfare, human health and of course the environment.

Go oats!