Meat-Free Meals for all the Family

What is Quorn and why should it be an important part of your family’s diet? We asked Dr Hannah Theobald, Registered Nutritionist and Head of Nutrition at Quorn

What is Quorn? What is the story behind it?

Quorn’s story goes back to the 1960s when scientists (at the World Health Organization) thought the world would soon run out of food and have insufficient protein in particular, to feed a growing global population.

In response, British scientists decided to look for a new protein food source, which would fill the gap. Having searched all around the world, they found a tiny fungus in one of the scientist’s garden in Marlow Buckinghamshire. Today, this very same fungus is grown in fermenters (think beer and yoghurt- which are also made through fermentation, a food processing technique that’s been around for centuries).
While the expected food and protein deficit didn’t materialise in the 1960s, the world’s population is set to grow to 9 billion people by 2050. Quorn offers a nutritious and sustainable source of protein, which can help the world meet its future protein needs sustainably and contribute to a healthy balanced diet at the same time.

How is it produced?

Quorn mycoprotein is produced through the fermentation of a natural microscopic fungus. We harness this ancient food processing technique on a large scale, using huge, specialised fermentation tanks (some 40m tall), similar to what you would find in a brewery! Our tiny fungus is fed with nutrients, water and heat and grows in the fermenter before being harvested. We call this harvested fungus, mycoprotein, the protein-rich food which is used in all Quorn products. Mycoprotein is then seasoned and mixed with a little free-range egg (for our vegetarian foods) or plant protein (for our vegan ones) to help bind the mix. It’s then steamed and chilled before being shaped for a variety of different products. The foods are then frozen, which is a really important part of making Quorn foods, as the freezing process is what gives Quorn mycoprotein it’s meat-like texture.

Why is it a good nutritional option for children?

Growing infants and children require protein to support the growth and development of their muscles and bones. Not only is mycoprotein, the main ingredient in Quorn, high in protein, it’s also high in fibre, which means that Quorn’s foods are a source of protein and/or fibre. Quorn mycoprotein can be described as a complete protein, meaning that it provides all of the essential amino acids needed for health.

For families following a vegetarian or vegan diet it’s important to vary protein sources in the diet to ensure the correct balance of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are consumed. Other good non-animal protein sources are beans and pulses.

Is it suitable for everyone, including vegans?

Quorn is a non-animal source of protein which is perfect for anyone wanting to reduce their meat consumption or follow a plant-based diet. Whether you are a meat eater, vegetarian or vegan there’s a Quorn offering for you! All of our products are suitable for vegetarians and an increasing number are suitable for vegans. Quorn is suitable for babies from the age of six months and is easy to incorporate into the diet of young children. Some Quorn foods do contain egg, milk and gluten, so be sure to check the ingredients list if anyone in the family is allergic to these foods.

How is it supplied and how can it be used in recipes?

Quorn can be used in much the same way as meat and is available in a variety of formats, from ingredients for scratch cooking such as Quorn Mince, Quorn Fillets or Pieces (which are chicken alternatives) to ready-to-cook family favourites such as Quorn Crispy Nuggets and Roarsomes to deli alternatives and snacks such as cocktail sausages which are perfect for a picnic. For example, Quorn Mince can be used as a replacement for beef mince in a Bolognese or lasagne. Or Quorn Nuggets and Roarsomes can be served in place of chicken nuggets.

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