Sometimes, it isn’t about making your food taste like more of one thing. It’s about making it taste like less of something else. Is our habit of adding sugar to coffee more about making it sweeter, or about making our morning pick-me-up less bitter? If your answer is the latter, there’s a new, healthful alternative that you may want to check out. It comes from MycoTechnology, a startup in Aurora, Colorado, and its name is ClearTaste.
The secret is found in fungus. This powder is made from what you might call a “mushroom.” MycoTechnology grows the fungus, spray dries it into a powder, and then ships it out to processed-food manufacturers as an alternative to sugar. Because, you see, eliminating bitterness is pretty synonymous with increasing sweetness.
In essence, the tiny little fungi molecules found in ClearTaste block your taste buds from actually detecting bitter flavors. “What we’ve done is create something that’s totally the opposite of a masking agent,” Alan Hahn, one of the co-founders and CEO of MycoTechnology, told Quartz. “We created a bitter blocker.”
The idea is to send ClearTaste to various manufacturers, encouraging them to replace sugar and other artificial sweeteners with this fungus instead. In fact, MycoTechnology says that its flagship product will cut your favorite snacks’ sugar content by up to 90 percent, and that it’s already found in some American foods. But you’ll never taste it, and you won’t taste bitterness either.
As magical as this concept sounds, not everyone is 100 percent on board quite yet. As Wired points out, groups like the Center for Food Safety have concerns of their own. “Just because something comes from yeast or a mushroom doesn’t make it automatically safe,” said Jaydee Hanson, the center’s senior policy analyst. “It should still go through the whole testing process that any food additive would.”