Innovate Blog
Activated charcoal – the new must have ingredient!

Tuesday July 31, 2018

A new food trend has arrived that threatens to darken the mood. Forget rainbow food – pitch-black food (and beverages!) has arrived, and it’s sweeping the internet, from hamburger buns and savoury crackers to ice cream cones and cake.

What gives pitch-black food its dark colour is an intriguing ingredient called activated charcoal. Created by burning coconut shells, it might sound unappetizing or even dangerous to eat, but it’s actually harmless, and doesn’t carry the unpleasant taste of eating something charred or burnt at all.

Activated charcoal has a long history of use in Chinese medicine for the treatment of drug overdose or accidental poisoning. Activated charcoal is also known for whitening teeth, relieving bloating, reducing cholesterol and treating inflammatory skin conditions.

Despite activated charcoal having an array of health benefits and striking colour, it isn’t the most flavoursome ingredient to add to your menu. According to New York ice cream chef Nicholas Morgenstern, the key is to add it ‘in small doses’ – which is all you need to add a deep black hue.

Morgenstern also suggests incorporating charcoal into beverages, as this is much easier than making a new dish from scratch just to accommodate the trend. So why not test the waters with a striking Perla Negra cocktail; made using activated charcoal, orange juice, honey, Arrack Liquer and lime juice, for a detox with a kick!

In London you can try a selection of activated charcoal baked goods at bakery Coco di Mama. The Italian food and coffee establishment are most famous for their vegan activated charcoal croissant, which is so popular that is sells out daily.

Pitch-black coloured foods have also seen an increase in the street food environment. At street food market KERB Camden you can try a selection of pitch-black treats, from activated charcoal ice cream and waffles to smoked mac ‘n’ cheese and activated charcoal macarons. All of which have been extremely popular and were featured on news website Buzzfeed’s must try in London list.

If you are serving pitch-black coloured food, why not serve in black coloured packaging. On news website Empowered By Colour black packaging was singled out as it makes products appear more expensive and transmits a higher perceived value. The blog continues to say that the colour black adds elegance and class to a product.

Our supplier Klöckner Pentaplast has developed a premium range of black EPS (expanded polystyrene) meal box solutions called HOTpacs® to deliver a distinctive, luxurious, more exclusive look to packaging for the foodservice sector.  HOTpacs® are also perfect for serving activated charcoal coloured foods such as burgers, cakes and savoury crackers.

For more information on black EPS – please contact Bunzl Catering Supplies today.

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