Farming with Beer Waste

In a  study published in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, researchers detail how they have created an eco-friendly pesticide using beer bagasse (spent beer grains), rapeseed cake (byproduct of oil extraction from seeds) and fresh cow manure. 

Chemical pesticides have been proven harmful to the environment, damaging soil and water. Pesticides are also easily consumed, and many studies link their use to multiple diseases and birth defects. Researchers from the Neiker Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development in Spain hope that farmers will use these organic byproducts from beer production to kill parasites, preserve healthy soil and increase crop yields. 

Read more (Frontiers Science News)

Can Microbes Eat Plastic?

Scientists found that rumen microbes, which ferment feed in a cow’s stomach and produce fatty acids, can also break down plastics, including the common polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in food and drink packaging. Rumen microbes are found in the rumen of cows, the largest compartment of their stomach.

These researchers hope to determine the specific enzymes used by the microbes  in this process, then genetically engineer the microbes to produce them in large quantities that  could then be used at an industrial scale. The study, conducted by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, is published in the journal Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.

This is not the first bacterium found to consume plastic. Ideonella sakaiensis, in enzymes secreted by some marine organisms and in certain fungi — and used in sake fermentation — also breaks down PETs. 

Read more (Live Science)

Picturing Traditional Sake

Hoping to spur interest in traditional sake, a Japanese producer has published a picture book What is Sake? that takes readers on a tour of their sake facility. Suigei Brewing Co., based in the western city of Kochi, uses the book to  detail how sake is made. The bilingual book includes English translations. 

The president of Suigei Brewing Co., Hirokuni Okura, notes Japan’s sake culture is gradually being forgotten. He said he desires to “have both adults and children view sake, an element of Japanese food culture, as something close to them.”

The book’s illustrator, Misae Nagai, featured all 53 employees of Suigei in her charming illustrations.

Read more (The Mainichi)

Dunkin’ Kombucha

Move over, Dunkin’ Coffee. The chain known for its coffee and donuts is branding itself into new territory — kombucha. Dunkin’ is the first chain restaurant (to TFA’s knowledge) to make their own kombucha. They are testing their new Dunkin’ Kombucha —  made in two flavors, Fuji Apple Berry and Blueberry Lemon — in select restaurants in the Albany, N.Y., and Charlotte, N.C., markets. 

According to their release, “Dunkin’ continues to democratize delicious by testing kombucha for the first time.” In any case, this test is further evidence of the fermented tea’s increased popularity as an alternative to soda.

Read more (Dunkin’)

Can you imagine dairy-free milk without a nut or oat? An Israeli start-up is using precision fermentation to create animal-free milk “indistinguishable from the real thing.”

Imagindairy’s technology recreates the whey and casein proteins found in a mammal’s milk. The fermentation time is quick at 3-5 days, and the final product mimics the taste and texture of traditional dairy milk, without cholesterol or GMOs. The product is expected to be in stores in the next two years.

“Many food products are produced in fermentation, including enzymes, probiotics and proteins,” says Eyal Afergan, co-founder and CEO of Imagindairy. He emphasized how safe the product is. “In fact, on the contrary, fermentation process produces a cleaner product which is antibiotic free and reduces the exposure to a potential milk borne pathogens.”

Read more (Food Navigator)

“Magic Happens”

René Redzepi graced the pages of The New York Times again, but this time in the Arts section. The chef and owner at the world-famous restaurant Noma shared impressions on different musical pieces and other musings with writer Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim. One of his favorites: Mort Garson’s “Plantasia” (an electronic album meant for plants) that he plays in Noma’s greenhouse. 

Redzepi also touched on fermentation. “It’s an antidote to the world where everything is so fast; on-demand; lightning speed. To actually have things that you have to wait for and then something magic happens, I love that. The happiest people I know are people who are in nature all the time: foragers, bakers, fermentation experts. Sometimes I envy that focus. My job is to be at the center of everything that is going on.”

Read more (The New York Times)

Fermented Skincare?

Is the future of skincare products fermented? A Finnish company is tapping into consumer trends they believe “will become the norm in five to ten years.” Brand Circulove is natural, sustainable, holistic — and made with fermented ingredients. Ingredients are fermented for 3-5 weeks, then food-grade oils are added.

“It’s an old tradition built in[to] this new technology,” says Paivi Paltola, Circulove CEO and co-founder. “It’s also this kind of more holistic way of thinking because fermentation helps your skin renew itself.”
Paltola says consumers are familiar with fermented ingredients in foods and beverages, but more education is needed to help them understand their role  in beauty and skincare products.

Read more (Cosmetics Design)

Supplements vs. Fermented Foods

Two UCLA professors of medicine encourage people “rather than thinking in terms of supplements, add some fermented foods to your diet.” In a Q&A, the doctors say the popularity of probiotics, postbiotics and the gut microbiome has blurred their value, despite the plethora of reputable scientific research. Product manufacturers — as has happened before, with terms like “gluten-free” — have begun labelling everything as containing -biotics or benefitting the gut microbiome.

“The word probiotics refers to the beneficial microbes found in certain fermented foods and beverages, as well [as] in specially formulated nutritional supplements,” write UCLA doctors Eve Glazier and Elizabeth Ko. “That means that any fermented food that contains or was made by live bacteria contains postbiotics. … Initial findings suggest that postbiotics may play a role in maintaining a balanced and robust immune system, support digestive health and help to manage the health of the gut microbiome.”

Read more (Journal Review)

Sourdough was the “breakout star of pandemic-era kitchens,” so it’s no surprise that sourdough hobbyists are turning their newly-found craft into a profession. There’s a new wave of bakers obtaining Cottage Food Operations licenses so they can sell their homemade bread. Max Kumangai (pictured), an unemployed Broadway actor, was one of many who started a bread-baking business during the pandemic.

“It’s a really exciting time,” says  Mitch Stamm, executive director of the Bread Bakers Guild of America. “Many small bakeries — one-person bakeries, two-person bakeries — they are doing beautifully.” The Guild says recessions have historically fueled passion in cooking and baking. Home bakers are finding their new quarantine hobby is a passionate career move, allowing them to create delicious food and socialize with customers.

“For sure there was a feeling, ‘I hate my job, I hate my life, I’m going to wake up and follow my heart,’” says Penny Stankiewicz, a pastry and baking arts instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. That school  received 85% more applications in 2020 compared to 2019.

Read more (The New York Times)

As China and Korea continue to clash over where kimchi originated, the Korean government  has published a book  laying their claim.

“Kimchi in the Eyes of the World” contains history, recipes, stories from writers who love to eat kimchi,  and  how traditional Korean kimchi is different from China’s pao cai, a pickled vegetable dish.

The 148-page book was published by the Korean Culture and Information Service and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. They plan to distribute it in Korean- and English-language versions  through overseas Korean Culture Centers  and via the foreign embassies in Korea.

Read more (The Korea Herald)