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)

Spontaneous fermentation is seeing a big surge among breweries. It’s a method beer, cider, wine and liquor makers should consider because spontaneous fermentation is a sign that the brewer is confident in their technique, willing to trust the uncontrolled aspects of the fermentation process and having fun, says Bon Appetit magazine. Also known as hands-off, natural or traditional fermentation, it’s the oldest form of fermentation, used before fermentation could be controlled and regulated.

Read more (Bon Appetit)