Developing plant-based cheeses with fermented melon seed milk

Dairy alternative categories are fast expanding. Initially dominated by plant-based milk, today dairy-free yoghurt, ice cream, and cheese products are readily available to shoppers in Europe.

However this last category, cheese, has proved challenging for R&D teams to meet consumer expectations on taste, texture, functionality, and nutrition. Increasingly, companies are turning to innovative ingredients to boost protein content, flavour, or meltability, such as fermented nuts and legumes​, aquafaba​, or microalgae protein​.

Now, a plant-based cheese start-up in Barcelona is coming to market with another ingredient: upcycled melon seed milk. The milk-like drink has ‘amazing’ nutritional values and when fermented, it generates ‘cheese-like’ aromas, Väcka co-founder and CEO Ana Luz Sanz explains.

Upcycling melon seeds into ‘milk’

Väcka was founded by Luz Sanz and Maxime Boniface in 2021. Shortly after, the start-up found its niche: plant-based cheeses. Väcka cheese alternatives are available in more than 400 points of sale, across retail and foodservice, including pizzerias.

Recently, the start-up decided to rework two of the products in its portfolio: Mözza and Chxddar. New versions of these products have replaced coconut oil with olive oil, and almond milk with fermented melon seed milk.

In the future, these ingredients will also be added to other products in its portfolio, notably its Vrie and Filä varieties.

Väcka_producte01The start-up has decided to rework two of the products in its portfolio: Mözza and Chxddar. New versions of these products have replaced coconut oil with olive oil, and almond milk with fermented melon seed milk. Image source: Väcka

“Melon seed milk is a beverage that is a mixture between water and ground melon seeds, that is afterwards filtered to remove residues,” ​Sanz told FoodNavigator. “This gives a milk-like drink with amazing nutritional values and some dairy-like notes, that we fermented to generate cheese-like…

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