History of TREHA®
Though trehalose was first discovered in 1832 by H.A.L. Wiggers in an ergot of rye, it was tremendously difficult to extract. This made it so prohibitively expensive to produce in quantity that it was considered a luxury item. In fact, for more than 160 years after its discovery, the practical use of trehalose was considered impossible. It wasn’t until 1994 when the Japanese food ingredient company Hayashibara Co., Ltd. developed a way to mass-produce trehalose from starch that it was able to be marketed commercially.
Today, TREHA® is a Japanese go-to ingredient, used in many sorts of foods—both sweet and savory—to provide many functional benefits. TREHA®︎ increases the shelf-life and improves the texture of baked goods, stabilizes proteins, reduces freeze-thaw damage and improves flavor and aroma. But it’s not solely used in Japan; TREHA® is used as an ingredient in more than 25,000 products sold world-wide.
Over 20 years after its launch, TREHA® is making its debut into the US foodservice industry so that American chefs and cooks can discover all the ways it can be used to preserve freshness, enhances flavor, mask off-notes and improve texture in both sweet and savory dishes.
Right in our own backyard: The Amazing Story of TREHA®
Over the years, Hayashibara Co., Ltd., a research and development company specializing in the production of syrups and sugars, has conducted a variety of food science research using enzymes from microorganisms.
The company has a long tradition of giving a small bag and a spoon to all of its employees and encouraging them to bring back soil samples from their travels far and wide. This micro-treasure hunt is a way to broaden the reach of the company’s researchers, the hope being that the soil brought home might contain as yet undiscovered microorganisms and enzymes that will prove useful in the company’s syrup and sugar production.
In early 1990’s, one night, one of the young researchers in the company, Kazuhiko Maruta, dreamt of a “sparkling colony” (a visible mass of a single species of microorganisms). Two days later, a microorganism that produces trehalose producing enzymes was discovered. Surprisingly, it was found in a soil sample taken right from his company’s home city of Okayama, Japan. This is how the unique enzymes that produce trehalose were brought into being…but the story goes back a little further.
Proceeding this discovery, research was being conducted all over the world to produce sugar from starch in an efficient way. The major hurdle was that starch was branching half way—like branches of a tree. Researchers knew that if an enzyme that was capable of cutting the branches efficiently could be found, it would be possible to produce diverse sugars with a high degree of purity. During the same time, Hayashibara Co., Ltd. was searching for a microorganism that could produce a branch-cutting enzyme from the mother earth. It was in the spring of 1966, a microorganism that produces this particular enzyme was found under a Japanese persimmon tree in the yard of Hayashibara Co., Ltd.’s research lab in Okayama.
Without the discoveries of these trehalose producing enzymes and branch-cutting enzyme found from the soil in Okayama, it would never have been possible to produce trehalose efficiently.
Another Story of trehalose:
The food that was provided by God to the Israelites is called manna. The description is found in the Book of Exodus , ”as being white like coriander seed and tasted like a wafer made with honey.” In the sutgar industry, manna is considered to be related to trehala manna, a sugar-like substance found in the cocoon of weevils (Latinos maculatus, Latinos nidificans and etc.) in the Middle East. In 1859, trehalose was isolated from trehala manna by Marcellin Berthelot, and named “trehalose” after its origin. (Trehalose was academically first identified in 1832, by H.A.L Wiggers while studying the fungus cultured from the ergot of rye.)
1: Exodus 16:1-36