It seems pretty hard to surprise us with food ingredients because everybody knows that cheese is made from milk and sausages are made from meat. However, sometimes the food industry uses ingredients we’d never even thought about.
Bright Side decided to tell you about 11 unusual and even exotic ingredients that are used in our everyday foods. We were especially surprised by number 1!
11. Tropical shrub Annatto
The seeds of this plant are used to make yellow or orange food coloring, and it smells a lot like nutmeg. It is very often used in making cheese, margarine, and other dairy products. Interestingly, annatto coloring was first used in the 16th century to make Gloucester cheese look yellow.
This substance is added when making donuts, cupcakes, and croissants to make working with the dough easier. In order to produce cysteine, an organic component is needed, so duck feathers or human hair are used. Despite such an unpleasant production method, L-cysteine has a good influence on skin and hair health and protects from radiation and aging.
The animal protein collagen that is extracted from veins, bones, skin, and other body parts is used to produce gelatin. It is not only an ingredient in traditional jelly and marmalade but also in ice cream (especially fruit ice cream and ice cream mousse). Another unexpected “meat” component in some types of ice cream is decanoic acid, which is extracted from animal fat.
Pineapples are used to get bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down proteins. It is used in the meat-processing industry in sausage production and for other meat products. By the way, enzymes with similar features are extracted from papaya (papain) and fig (ficain).
Isinglass, or fish collagen, is used all over the world in beer production to make the drink lighter. This substance is made from the swim bladders of huge types of fish. Despite a very low amount of isinglass in the final product, vegetarians are against its usage
Early chewing gums were made with Sapodilla tree juice. Nowadays, the basis of almost all modern chewing gums is synthetic polymers. Most often it’s latex, which is also used in the production of rubber products. The negative influence of polymers on the human body hasn’t been proven, but keep in mind that manufacturers don’t recommend chewing a piece of gum for longer than 10 minutes.
The ancient Greeks used rosemary as seasoning, but nowadays this plant has more roles in the food industry. Antioxidants are made of rosemary to protect food rich in fat from rancidification, for example, chips. A food supplement made from rosemary is often added to chocolate spreads.
Сochineal is a red food coloring made from female cochineal aphids. This food coloring is very useful for making marmalade, ice cream, and frosting. Besides, if you are choosing a red coloring, then cochineal is probably your best choice because it does no harm to your health (except in very rare cases of allergic reactions). Erythrosine (another red coloring), however, causes thyroid hyperactivity.
3. Coal tar
Coal tar is used to make a food coloring with a very romantic name: “Allura Red.” In the food industry, this substance is used for coloring fish, sweet foods, and slightly alcoholic drinks. There were theories that the substance was toxic, but research didn’t prove that. Despite the research results, this coloring is banned in some European countries.
Shellac is a natural resin, secreted by female “lac bugs.” They cover tree bark with this substance. After processing, this substance is used to make jelly beans, chocolate, and other desserts, covering them with a frosty shiny look.
1. Gold and silver
These precious metals are used to make food supplements for coloring desserts and confectionary and improving their looks. Because they cost so much, gold and silver are only used in premium foods.
Bonus: What are some potato chips made of?
Some potato chips aren’t made directly from potatoes. Those that look similar to one another or stackable ones consist of water, dry potato flakes, cornstarch, and added flavors. The mixture is pressed into large sheets, cut into ovals, and each oval is fried for 11 seconds. Such chips have a concave shape in order to neatly fill the tube package to the lid and stay intact before they reach the customer.