America could be facing a pickle shortage. Since the mid-2000s, a mildew has been destroying cucumber crops. Fewer farmers are growing cucumbers now because of the high amount of failed harvests. USDA records show pickling cucumber acreage has declined 25 percent between 2004 and 2015. Lina Quesada-Ocampo, vegetable pathologist at North Carolina State University told NPR: “This is the number one threat to the pickle industry.” Thankfully, vegetable breeder Michael Mazourek, a professor at Cornell University, is developing a cucumber variety resistant to mildew.

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Two scientists have a patent pending on a brewery invention that detects the wild yeast contaminant Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. diastaticus. The wild yeast causes secondary fermentation in beer production, fermenting unfermentable sugars and overcarbonating brews. A contamination costs brewers millions in recalled product, lost sales and decreased market share. The patent is by a University of Sciences director and his 20-year-old undergrad researcher. The microbiological medium would be marketed for professional and home brewers.

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A kombucha entrepreneur made a major deal on the latest episode of “Shark Tank.” All the investor “sharks” wanted in on Kate Field’s at-home kombucha brewing kit. Two sharks offered Field $350,000 in exchange for 10 percent of her business, The Kombucha Shop. The kit sells for $45 and includes a reusable brew jar, a temperature gauge, test strips, brewing instructions and ingredients. (Inc.) (Photo from: The Kombucha Shop) https://goo.gl/4GjJhq .

“Dealing with fame” – an ABC Life story about kimchi. The condiment is consumed at every meal by 63 percent of Koreans. And today the salty fermented cabbage is served at restaurants all over the world, from breakfast diners to burger joints. Australian chef Peter Jo: “Kimchi isn’t a dish, it’s a technique.”

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Microbiologists in Canada developed a formula that makes commercial kefir healthier. Traditional, old-world kefir is packed with health benefits, decreasing weight gain by 40% and cholesterol levels by 50%. Commercial kefir, though, does not contain bacteria-loving yeast used in traditional kefir. That variation in the fermentation process means commercial kefir is not as healthy. The Canadian microbiologist’s formula can be added to milk in commercial vats and is currently in the patent process.

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Fermented food and drink products are the next big thing in the food industry. How does your product stand out in the marketplace? The Fermentation Association (TFA), getting more people to enjoy fermented products. Join us at fermentationassociation.org

Though more consumers want probiotics only 2 percent of new food and drinks launched in the last 12 months were marketed as containing probiotics. A study found its because of regulatory issues. Companies (especially in the dairy category) are uncertain whether or not they can legally label a product as containing probiotics. Labeling the food as fermented instead could aid a product’s natural and healthy image, the study concludes, since more consumers are viewing fermentation as an authentic natural food and beverage choice.

Read more (Nutritional Outlook)