Today’s food is packaged in so much plastic that humans now regularly consume plastic molecules in their food. A Polish design student created Scoby packaging, an edible and recyclable packaging that farmers can grow to wrap products. The zero waste biological tissue is a similar texture to animal tissue used to encapsulate sausage or salami, but Scoby is vegetarian and can be grown with a simple chemical process student Roza Janusz of the School of Form in Poznan, Poland invented. The process is similar to making kombucha, and the fermentation growth time per sheet is two weeks.

Read more (Fast Company)

Fermented food and drink bar GYST is expanding locations, workshops — and research. The Minneapolis-based company is teaming up with University of Minnesota Food Science and Nutrition Department to study the health benefits of a consistent diet of lacto-fermented foods. GYST will study topics like: will the health of soil produce better fermented foods, does organic produce create better fermentation and do different vegetables produce different bacteria.

Read more (City Pages)

Ever thrown out a jar of kimchi because of those pesky white mold bubbles? Fear not – it’s not mold, it’s yeast! Researchers say just skim it off, rinse the veggie, heat it and it’s totally safe to eat. The World Institute of Kimchi (WiKim) released a study on the hygenic safety of the yeast strains that form on kimchi, a report which was published in the Journal of Microbiology. WiKim General Director Dr. Jaeho Ha said the study is significant because “it is a step forward toward the alleviation of the anxiety for hygienic safety of kimchi.”

Read more (Phys.org)

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.

Read more (NPR)

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.

Read more (Philadelphia Business Journal)

It’s National Pickle Day — Forbes explains why pickles are not a fading trend, but a growing food culture with staying power. The pickle market is growing, reaching a value of $12.74 billion by 2020 (half of that – $6.70 billion – is just in the U.S.). Pickles curb dehydration, are packed with antioxidants like vitamin C and E and the fermented vinegar in the juice is good for your gut. Today, pickle concoctions can be found on most aisles of a grocery store, from sports drinks to popcorn to popsicles.

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Research is critical to the future of cacao crops, which are challenged by climate change and disease. Fruity cocoa flavors are related to how the beans are fermented, while floral cocoa flavors are related to the genetics of the crop. Researchers at the Cocoa Research Centre are currently developing cacao varieties that are resistant to drought and particular pests.

Read more (Smithsonian)

Fermented dairy products reduce the risk of heart disease, according to a new study. By analyzing food journals a group of men kept over 11 years, scientists concluded fermented dairy products have great health benefits. Part of the reason this is important is because dairy products with a high-fat content have been villainized by health experts, causing the public to cut back full-fat milk products. However, the new study is now prompting researchers “to question whether dairy products should be evaluated solely on their fat content, but rather their nutritional content.”

Read more (Newsweek)

Food scientists from the University of Massachusetts Amherst found vegetables are the main source of fermentation-related microbes. Many in the fermentation field commonly think food handlers, food prep surfaces, production environment or other environmental sources effect the bacteria in fermented vegetables. Testing was done as Mass.-based Real Pickles, and the company founder said he was fascinated to learn how fresh, organic vegetables play a key part in a diverse microbial environment for fermentation.

Read more (Science Daily) (Photo: Real Pickles)

The U.S. Association of Cider Makers is creating a universal dryness scale, a number that can be put on labels to designate whether the cider is dry, semi-dry, semisweet or sweet. As ciders experience a revival in the U.S., the No. 1 issue is customers assuming all ciders are too sweet. Many feel this was the downfall of the popular Riesling wine movement of the late 2000s/early 2010s. The scale could be applied to all fermented beverages, where dryness factors could be tested in a lab.

Read more (Washington Post)