Zwamcijs – a Wageningen story of straw, mushrooms and circularity

By using mushrooms instead of soy, the food chain of the rolls is reduced.
WUR Chef Maurice Beekmans and student editor Julia van der Westhuyzen with the zwamcijsje.

New: Zwamcijsje. It looks and tastes just like a typical Dutch saucijzenbroodje (sausage roll). But this one is made with mushrooms (zwam is Dutch for mushroom). And developed in Wageningen.

Text Julia van der Westhuyzen

As a Resource-student-editor I am invited to the first tasting on campus of the Zwamcijsje. Ans I must say, it tastes really nice. The outside is crispy and the inside is authentically spiced. It does not taste a lot like mushroom, which is good, I think, for less-adventurous eaters. I am usually not a big fan of pastries, but for this sausage roll I will make an exception.

But why mushrooms? Mendelt Tillema, founder of WUR-start-up UmaMeats where the Zwamcijsje was invented, explains: ‘Cereals are one of the most abundantly grown crops in the world, but more than half of these crops become straw. Straw unfortunately has a very limited role in the food chain because it contains so much lignin. But: oyster mushrooms actually love lignin and convert it into mushrooms which we turn into rolls. After this, the straw can also be used for animal feed.’

Better than soy

Zwamcijsje is part of an initiative towards future-proof-food which involves making healthier food for the planet and its people. By using mushrooms instead of soy, the food chain of these mushroom rolls is reduced.

Tillema: ‘The natural flavour and bite of oyster mushrooms fit the product as if it is supposed to be.’ Zwamcijsje can achieve their goal of replicating authentic sausage texture but with less additives and 30 per cent less fat than other vegetarian sausage rolls, according to the makers.

Aurora

The aim is to focus on promoting this as a mushroom product and in doing so take the ‘next step after vegan’, meaning ‘not advertising what is missing from vegan alternatives but rather celebrating what is already in the vegan food we eat’, says Tillema.

WUR Chef, Maurice Beekmans, is excited for the Aurora building to be one of the first places in the world to sell the Zwamcijsje and thinks it will fit right into the plant-based catering they already provide. Students can pick one up for around 2.75 euros.

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