Food Science Students Invent Easy-To-Use Meat Seasoning

Article ID: 551560

Released: 27-Apr-2009 12:00 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: Virginia Tech

  • Nuggets of flavor, which are easily inserted into the meat, dissolve during cooking, releasing their flavor. Spice n Easy can be used to roast, grill, and slow-cook chicken, beef, fish, and pork. Members of the Virginia Tech Food Science and Technology Team have created Cajun and Italian Spice n Easy flavor nuggets for inserting into meat before grilling.

  • Credit: Virginia Tech Photo

    Kevin Holland of Bradford, Pa., a Ph.D. student in food science and technology at Virginia Tech and member of the team that invented Spice n Easy, stirs the seasoning with sucrose and water as if preparing hard candy. The process binds the spices and preserves quality while adding sweetness. Sabrina Hannah of Elverson, Pa., also a Ph.D. student and team member, looks on.

  • Credit: Virginia Tech Photo

    The product is poured onto a surface to cool and harden. It is then cut into shapes that can be inserted into meat.

  • Credit: Virginia Tech Photo

    Members of the Virginia Tech Food Science and Technology Team include, in front, Sabrina Hannah of Elverson, Pa., Denise Gardner of Reading, Pa., and Kevin Holland of Bradford, Pa.; second row, Lynn Ann Robertson of Axton, Va., and Marnie Rognlien of Warrenton, Va.; and in back, Cristian Samperio of Guatemala City, Guatemala, Robert Moore of Floyd, Va., and Paul Sarnoski of Ashley Pa. (High Resolution photo available from mjtalbot@vt.edu. Request 2090029-044.jpg)

Newswise — Summertime and the living is easy. You are in the mood to grill. But wait. All you have is a slab of unmarinated meat. It's okay. Virginia Tech students have invented Spice n Easy, flavor spikes that will quickly and easily flavor your meat. No overnight soaking. No cleanup. You are ready to cook.

The product was developed by the Virginia Tech Food Science and Technology (FST) Team as a unique way to add flavor to meat products without the wait and mess of a traditional marinade. Nuggets of flavor, which are easily inserted into the meat, dissolve during cooking, releasing their flavor. Spice n Easy can be used to roast, grill, and slow-cook chicken, beef, fish, and pork.

Made from all natural ingredients, the product does not need to be refrigerated and has a long shelf life. Spice n Easy has been created in Cajun and Italian flavors.

The FST team encountered a number of challenges with their idea of a meat seasoning that would dissolve during cooking. "The first problem was how to make a marinade inflexible enough to be inserted into meat," said team leader Denise Gardner of Reading, Pa., an FST master's degree candidate.

They decided to try a hard candy approach. Sucrose and water were heated, spices were added, and the product was cooled and shaped. In addition to binding the spices, the sucrose adds sweetness and preserves spice quality. The students experimented with raw materials, different shapes and sizes, cooling times, mold components, and packaging to create the gourmet seasoning.

"We've tested the product in chicken, beef, and pork and found that it worked well in numerous applications," said Kevin Holland of Bradford., Pa., a co-leader and FST doctoral candidate.

The students also conducted a product safety study and prepared a plan for commercial scale production and a marketing plan.

The students anticipate the item will be popular. "Eight out of 10 families own an outdoor grill," Gardner said. "The increase in the use of outdoor grills has encouraged the use of sauces and marinades, which give variety and uniqueness to meals."

"Our data shows that 73 percent of potential customers would be interested in purchasing Spice n Easy." said Sabrina Hannah of Elverson, Pa. a co-leader and FST doctoral candidate.

Jackie Reed, licensing associate with Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc., is working with the team to develop their invention into a product that will make its way to grocery store shelves. "The food industry is always looking for new products, and the FST students and faculty are very creative. We hope to find an industrial partner to help make this a commercial product," she said.

In addition to Gardner, Holland, and Hannah, team members are undergraduates Fatemeh Ataei of Karaj, Iran; Luman Chen of Hangzhou, China; and Cynthia Qin Li of Zhejiang, China; master's degree students Marnie Rognlien of Warrenton, Va.; Lynn Ann Robertson of Axton, Va; Denise Gardner of Reading, Pa.; Robert Moore of Floyd, Va.; and Christian Samperio of Guatemala City, Guatemala; and Ph.D. students Govindaraj Dev Kumar of Chennai, India; and Paul Sarnoski of Ashley, Pa., all FST majors.


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