If a colleague brings homemade cookies to work you try one and say "Yum!", regardless of whether it's true or not, right?
Well the same goes for everyone who tries Heilu samples. We can't tell whether they truly like it or are telling us white lies to not hurt our feelings.
That's why we brought in some experts who don't care about our feelings.
Enter Canada's Smartest Kitchen
We are extremely fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to have had Canada's Smartest Kitchen (CSK) test Heilu's powder and butter. CSK is a globally recognized food development centre located in Charlottetown, PEI. Experts in testing and developing new products, they nonchalantly use terms like "organoleptic characterization" and care more about being impartial than hurting our feelings. They're perfect!
A few months ago we sent them a bunch of our early prototype Heilu butter and powders. They bravely—and creatively!—tested them in all sorts of applications and, late last week, shared their final report. It is amazingly comprehensive, enlightening... and long. So here's the summary:
The Bad News
Heilu powder makes plain cookies, muffins, and yogurt worse.
On its own, CSK's assessment of the powder was generally positive:
But things took a turn for the worse, when they added varying amounts of Heilu powder (from 2% to 12% of the total weight) into yogurt, plain muffins, and sugar cookies.
While Heilu powder didn't affect the testers' appearance scores—as you can see in the pictures above, it just made the foods more golden brown—it negatively affected every other measure. Here's a rough chart I made to visually summarize the results:
On the bright side, CSK did say that chocolate, coffee, and some spices went well with Heilu powder. When they were added testers could hardly distinguish the difference. But then again, enough chocolate can make donkey snot appealing too. This could just be CSK's way of being nice, their equivalent of you telling your colleague his unappetizing cookies are "pretty good."
Indeed, Canada's Smartest Kitchen's final recommendation was to remove everything but the protein from the powder because "a protein isolate from the meal would create a product that is easier to incorporate into a variety of food and/or beverage products." We do want a tasty and easy to use product, but we don’t want to have to remove all the other valuable nutrients found in Heilu powder to get there. It’s a dilemma. We have lots of work to do to find the answer (... or simply bury it in delicious chocolate!).
The Good News
Heilu butter is good. Really, truly good!
CSK's description of the butter on its own wasn't anything special:
But when they used Heilu butter to replace 50% or even 100% of traditional oils in various recipes, the testers reported no change in appearance, aroma, mouthfeel, or flavour of the final product.
CSK went so far as to write, "As development progressed, CSK learned how easily the larvae oil can be substituted for butter.” That (we think) is scientist speak for, "Holy crap, this stuff is actually pretty good!"
Apparently enthused by the promising performance of Heilu butter in simple cookies and muffins, the CSK experts took it to the next level and experimented with using it to make a turkey wing confit, brioche, and pie crusts. The results were amazing: they said it performed similar to a high-end oil like duck fat!
Needless to say we are extremely encouraged.
If you’re given the opportunity to choose a product that tastes, looks, feels, and cooks the same as you’re used to, but is better for you, the planet, and future generations, that’s an easy choice right?
So What's Next?
Honestly, even the "Bad News" was good news for us. We expected these results going in and they confirmed we're on the right track.
That "track" is continuing to work towards our 2017 goals, the most important of which are 1) Getting regulatory approval and 2 ) Making our ingredients exceptionally delicious and easy to use. The big difference now is thanks to Canada's Smartest Kitchen we have a bit more pep in our step.
On top of these goals we have a couple new, exciting, and convention-defying opportunities in the pipeline, which we look forward to sharing with you in the coming months. Stay tuned!
And, of course, thanks for your continued support!