Welcome back to the Amerex Blog! In this new post we are going to focus on a very interesting topic for food manufacturers. It also follows the trend of consumer demand for natural or minimally processed foods: fermented beverages.

The fermentation of beverages (and food in general) is a very old preservation method that has been documented for more than 6,000 years. As we explained in detail in previous posts, this process requires microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts and fungi) that carry out different types of fermentation: acetic, alcoholic, butyric and lactic.

Kombucha, juice or fermented tea. Which fermented beverages are currently trendy?

There are many fermented beverages that are currently trendy, although the best known are wine, beer and cider:

Kombucha: One of the most popular fermented beverages (we could see a lot of advertisements in supermarkets and the media). This drink is prepared from black tea with sugar, resulting in an alcoholic beverage of 0.5% to 1.2%. For this, a culture of bacteria and yeast called scoby is essential.

Jun or honey kombucha: A type of Kombucha. It is made by fermenting green tea with honey using scoby. The result in alcohol will also be 0.5% to 1.2%.

Beetroot Kvass: It is made by fermenting beetroot in water as beetroot is a food rich in sugars.

Kefir (kefir yoghurt): Although it is not a drink, it is a fermented food that is also currently trendy. It is generated by fermenting milk with kefir nodules (a mixture of bacteria and yeast).

Ginger beer: This is a low-alcohol, English fermented drink made from ginger sourdough or “ginger bug”.

These current drink options are popular because of their low alcohol content and the flavours obtained through fermentation.

Which organisms carry out the fermentation of fermented beverages?

The organisms that carry out the fermentation of these beverages are mainly: lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and yeasts.

Lactic acid bacteria convert sugars into lactic acid. Some genera of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) important in food fermentation are: Lactococcus or Lactobacillus.

Yeasts are a more heterogeneous group of micro-organisms, although there are some types such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae that are known and used worldwide.

Besides carrying out the fermentation of fermented beverages, these microorganisms (LAB and yeasts) contribute to the taste, odour and final flavour through the production of hydrolytic enzymes such as proteases and lipases.

What are the benefits of fermented beverages?

The benefits of fermented beverages are in line with a consumer seeking the following: a healthy lifestyle, natural ingredients, health benefits and artisanal foods.

With a decrease in the consumption of sugary and/or high alcoholic beverages, fermented beverages are emerging as local entertainment.

Who hasn’t heard that a glass of wine a day is good for your health?

One of the benefits of fermented beverages is their protective action. Although it is well known about the problems that alcohol generates in our organism, it has been proven that the light-moderate consumption of low alcoholic beverages favours the protection against cardiovascular disease, stroke, etc. This is known as the J-shaped curve.

J-Shaped curve of Alchol intake

Studies indicate that the benefits of fermented beverages are due to increased levels of vitamins (B2, B9, B12, and K) and bioactive peptides with hypotensive effect, generated during fermentation.

What are the microbiological problems with fermented beverages and how can they be solved?

Fermented beverages have microbiological problems as with any other food, which affect safety and shelf life. A common problem with these products is bacterial contamination during the fermentation process, from the arrival of the raw material to the end of the shelf life. Contaminating bacteria compete for the substrate leading to: lower yields and the introduction of undesirable micro-organisms such as moulds.

To solve the microbiological problems of fermented beverages, there are natural alternatives that ensure food safety.

At Amerex, for example, we have ferments of great interest to the food industry due to their potential as antimicrobials and their ease of application in numerous food matrices. By means of natural protection mechanisms, the different ranges of products such as Biamex or Safemix, prevent contamination and increase the shelf life of the product without affecting its organoleptic properties. We also have products for specific problems, such as Biamex YM to prevent the appearance of moulds and yeasts, very typical in fermented beverages.

If you want to know more about these ferments for food safety, we will be happy to discuss them with you, so don’t hesitate to write to us!

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