Purextract is putting pines on the plate

It’s not every day that our Plant Odyssey takes us out of the lab for an adventure at the crossroads of science and culinary art.

Sharing new experiences bursting with potential for development with our readers is part of our mission.

 So, we’re going off the beaten path of formulating OPCs as dietary supplements and taking the road less travelled: we’re putting pine on your plate!

Down in Basque country, we met with Nicolas Borteyru, a Bayonnais chef working on the banks of the River Nive.

 Trained side by side with Michelin-starred masterchefs, his ‘simple’ cuisine, as he modestly describes it, expertly marries creativity and tradition.

 ‘For a long time, my childhood memories of the Landes Forest have been close to my heart … Then I discovered an article about the health benefits of pine bark, and I contacted Purextract to arrange some organoleptic tests. The idea of using a local, natural product was instantly appealing to me.’

 For a year, Nicolas Borteyru ‘worked up’ our two ingredients, Oligopin and Cosmythic, for both sweet and savoury recipes. The recipes were created in keeping with how the spirit moves him on the day, and the seasonality of the produce available.

 ‘When I saw the “brown powder”, I imagined it would have a velvety, pleasant feel to it, but when I tasted it – well, that was a surprise! If the first effect on the palate is sweet, what follows is a powerful bitterness that would combine well with fruit, chocolate, or even asparagus or duck, two other products local to the region. Honestly, bringing Oligopin together with the acidity of lemon is as inspiring as marrying Cosmythic and honey!’

 According to the experts, the health and organoleptic virtues of Oligopin and Cosmythic are directly connected to their high dimer contents, dimers being small molecules of catechin and epicatechin.

 From deal to dinner…

 A duck crumble à la Nicolas Borteyru clearly falls into the category of ‘functional food’: food that has a beneficial effect on one or more of the target functions of the organism (here, for example, protecting LDLs against oxidisation). Today, doctors, health agencies, and insurance companies share a common goal to educate consumers about preventive medicine, rather than cures. The World Health Organization attributes 30 per cent of deaths to cardiovascular diseases. ‘So, if we can combine health and pleasure – well, count me in!’

 In 2013, the size of the functional food market worldwide was estimated at US$246 billion, which marks 22 per cent growth from 2007 to 2012. Worldwide growth is forecast at an average of 4 per cent until 2017, with regional disparities: Europe and Latin America are ahead of the pack, with potential double-digit market growth.

It is in this context of extremely favorable market conditions that we are bringing the functionality of Oligopin and its unique flavor together in a gourmet recipe.

A full-scale experiment in Southeast Asia

 Asian populations were the first to regularly consume functional foods. Women in particular have since the beginning of time associated a good diet with beautiful skin. Nutrition is just as big a part of the ‘beauty arsenal’ as creams and other topical products – but we wanted to put it to the test!

Nicolas Borteyru, in association with Purextract, developed two recipes exclusively for the Thai women’s market: a mango gazpacho with a skin lightening effect, and a chocolate cake to improve skin firmness, both made using our active beauty ingredient Cosmythic, as supported by a clinical trial.

A hundred female consumers were given the chance to offer up their faces – and their tastebuds – to Nicolas’ creations. The gazpacho was a huge success: 85 per cent of tasters enjoyed the flavor; 83 per cent liked the texture; 85 per cent said that they would buy it. The chocolate cake was initially something of a curiosity, as Southeast Asian consumers do not ordinarily eat chocolate. Once the surprise of the first mouthful had passed, 49 per cent of the Thai women surveyed gave it a good review. This is far lower a satisfaction rating than was recorded in a mixed-gender European group last February (a 78 per cent satisfaction rating). Purextract is offering both recipes to its clients as part of a working partnership under contract.

 The last word in good taste…

 We’ll leave this to our gastronomic collaborator, Nicolas Borteyru:

‘My hope for the future? To continue plating up happiness, bringing out the unique character of each ingredient, and finding the perfect marriage between them. Our ultimate goal will be to make time stand still between two mouthfuls of a traditionally innovative cuisine.’