Category Archives: Food & Drinks

Food sauces are one of the most important condiments in the human diet and gastronomic culture around the world. The almost endless combinations of flavors, textures, and colors, as well as the sensorial characteristics that consumer feels savoring food sauces, make these products one of the most consumed and important for the economy in food industry. The food sauces market generated US$120 billion in 2016, with a trend to increase in the next years.

Products for human consumption need a careful evaluation of all physico-chemical properties and sensorial characteristics.

Rheology is the study of deformation and flow of matter under well-defined conditions and is an important tool to characterize fundamental material properties of food systems. Rheology applied to food processing and product design is an area with a huge impact due to the important information obtained. Food rheology is essential for:

  • quality and stability control
  • design flow and handling systems
  • sensory evaluation of food

Rheological and mechanical properties like consistency, degree of fluidity and flow, are the most important parameters to be determined in food sauces and will be important to determine how stable the final product will be and how long it can be stored. Rheological studies of fluid foods are so important that developments in the fields of process engineering application, equipment design and transport system are based in these results.

Rheological properties of food sauces

Food sauces are a complex mixture constituted essentially by water or oil. Hydrocolloids have an essential role in food sauces formulation once they will be responsible for viscosity control and stability of the formulation, prolonging shelf-life. Sauces are semi-solid foods, behaving as soft solids or non-Newtonian fluids and exhibiting pseudoplastic flow with a distinct yield stress and thixotropic (time-dependent) behavior.

Rheological characterization is essential to quantify the functional relationships between deformation, stresses, and the resulting rheological properties such as viscosity, elasticity or viscoelasticity. Viscoelastic properties play dominant roles in the handling and quality of the sauce. Such properties are not only dependent on time but also on processing temperature, solid contents and other ingredients used in many types of formulations.

Usually food sauces are shear-thinning (pseudoplastic) fluids and exhibit a yield stress, defined as the stress that must be exceeded for flow to occur. The consistency index, apparent viscosity, yield stress are important product properties. Thus, the rheological parameters are a useful tool in understanding changes in food structure during processing, to control the quality of the product and to consumer handling with the product. Within rheology, the oscillatory rheological method is the most popular method to characterize viscoelasticity, since relative contributions of viscous and elastic response of materials can be measured.

Main rheological parameters to determine in the quality control of food sauces

  • Viscosity

Viscosity is an important property of fluid foods. It is defined as the internal friction of a liquid or its ability to resist flow. As viscosity changes the flow properties of a liquid food changes and influences the appearance and consistency of a product. Viscosity of a food sauce is affected by factors like temperature, concentration of solute, molecules and suspended matter; it can be used as an indicator of quality by the final consumer, as in most cases a thicker food sauce is thought to have superior quality when compared to a thinner product.

Like most fluid foodstuffs, sauces show complex rheological behavior. Sauces like mayonnaise and ketchup are sold in different containers including the traditional glass bottle or plastic squeeze dispensers, so controlling the different dispensing properties is necessary. When used in a glass bottle, the sauce is not expected to flow freely until the bottle is agitated. In the plastic bottle, on the other hand, the sauce should flow when a gentle squeeze (pressure) is applied for several seconds. In general, mayonnaise and ketchup exhibit pseudoplastic behavior with a flow threshold, presenting thixotropy (shear stress dependence on the time of shear); also, the decrease in the oil content of mayonnaise normally lowers the viscosity of the final product. In Figure 1 is depicted the dependence of viscosity on shear rate, or applied motion – a higher shear rate will promote a lower viscosity and flow.

Figure 1 – Flow comparison between two commercial ketchups – both products exhibit a lower viscosity when the applied motion is higher, which is necessary for the product to flow.
  • Yield stress

Yield stress is a physical and rheological property for liquid and solid materials. Yield stress determination is an essential property of food sauces and it is a measure of the strength of the material structure, being defined as the minimum stress required to make a material flow. Pseudoplastic materials behave as solids under small applied stresses, and as liquids at high stresses. Figure 2 relates stress with strain, highlighting the yield stress as the moment when the material cannot hold more elastic deformation and flow begins.

Figure 2 – relation between stress and strain for a pseudoplastic food; the yield stress represents the moment when the elastic deformation reaches a limit and flow ensues.

In practice, the yield stress of products such as mayonnaise, ketchup, salad dressings, etc, represents the force that has to be applied by the user in order to break down its structure and initiate its dispensing. Since no more relevant stress is applied after reaching the yield point, and the material is left to rest over time, its structure rebuilds, becoming solid again.

Yield stress is also a key product characteristic which determines its texture, and thus the consumer sensory perception during use and application.

  • Polymer behavior, stability and shelf-life

Oscillatory time sweeps are important when testing materials, such as dispersions and polymers, that may undergo macro or micro structural rearrangements with time. These rearrangements directly influence rheological behavior. Oscillatory time sweeps directly provide the necessary information about how a material changes with time.

By oscillatory time sweeps of food sauces, it is possible to determine possible polymer degradation, solvent evaporation, dispersion settling, cure information and/or time dependent thixotropy of formulations. Oscillatory tests give important information about food sauces stability and shelf-life, once the evaluation of the material’s behavior with time can be monitored directly with variation of frequency and the temperature of interest.

By oscillatory time sweeps one may measure two parameters: G’, referent to the “storage” or “elastic” modulus and G’’ referent to the “loss” or “plastic” modulus.

Figure 3 – Oscillatory time-sweep showing a relationship between viscosity, G’ and G”. When the G’ is superior to G”, the food sauce will have a solid-like behavior, which will become a liquid-like behavior from the moment G” becomes superior than G’.

A stable formulation with no structural modifications is represented in a plot as shown in Figure 3, where the G’ and G’’ are independent (the formulation maintains its fluid characteristics). On the other hand, if the food sauce formulation is not stable, and its identity varies with variation of frequency or temperature, the G’ and G’’ will cross.

Instruments for rheological measurements

The increasing social and economic importance of food production, together with the complexity of production technology, processing, handling and acceptance of these highly perishable and fragile food materials require a more extensive knowledge of their physical properties.  There are numerous instruments available to the food industry to measure viscosity for quality control and thus ensure that products made are of consistent quality. These commonly-used viscometers are capable of measuring Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids in a wide viscosity range. The consistometer determines the consistency of a food by measuring the distance it flows under its own weight. Rotational viscometers measure the torque required to turn a spindle in a sample of fluid at a known speed. Capillary viscometers, also known as U-Tube or Ostwald, measure the time for a fluid to pass between two points of a capillary tube under the force of gravity.

Once food sauces are subjected to variations in their temperature during production, transport, storage, preparation and consumption, and taking into account the influence of the overall properties of the final product, e.g., taste, appearance, texture and stability, rheological characterization is essential  to optimize processing conditions and improve product quality.

 

Tea can be consumed in different ways. The most popular one worldwide continues to be the infusion of the dried leaves, however, solid tea consumption is growing remarkably, especially due to the new matcha (powdered tea) consumption trend. Actually, tea was firstly consumed as a whole leaf instead of simply as an infusion. The leaves were not strained and tossed as we do now, and this allowed the consumers to take advantege of all of the nutricional aspects of the tea leaf, both the water soluble and the insoluble ones.

We might say that we are still in the leaf infusion Era and regarding this matter many questions usually arise. Which one is the best? To use loose leaf or tea bags?

Both have advantages and disadvantages.

Comparing tea quality

Generally loose leaf tea is of better quality than tea sold in tea bags, especially reagarding cheap tea bags, which contain mostly tea dust and tea fannings resulting from the tea leafs processing. However, there are many good quality tea bags which use either tea sourced from cut loose tea leasf instead of the byproducts of the tea industry and some top quality brands that even sell tea bags containing full tea leaves. I usually advise loose leaf tea for heavier tea drinkers as the tea sold in this fashion is hermetically sealed until use, unlike tea bags which can lose flavour and absorb smells very easily.

A common habit, even at speciality stores, is to open the tea container and give it to the client to smell. This is not hygienic at all and should be avoided. In this regard hermetically sealed tea bags can better preserve their flavour than frequently opened tea containers. If you can afford good quality tight containers or are a rather heavy consumer of loose leaf tea this shouldn’t however pose as big as a problem.

An advantage of brewing loose leaf tea is that you can see the beauty of the leafs unfold in hot water, admire how they look like before and after brewing and how they smell. You can also play with the amount of tea you wish to brew making it lighter or stonger. When using tea bags you can play with the flavour only by modulating either the water temperature or the infusion time.

When brewing loose leaf it implies you to have more specialized tea paraphernalia and time. Usually people more inclined to loose leaf teas invest more time in tea education and look for the perfect cup.

Tea bags are normally of a lower quality when comparing to loose, hermetically sealed tea.

Regarding tea bags a lot of debate has been made about the type of tea bag. Many advocate that the pyramidal tea bags are the best as they allow more room for the leaves to expand. While some say this is more of a marketing stategy, there are a few scientific reports regarding the loose leaf vs. tea bag “battle”. A recent study compared single, double and circular tea bags with loose leaf tea. What was found was that indeed leaf swealling is higher for loose leaf, followed by double chamber tea bags, single tea bags and circular tea bags. In another study, researchers found that, althought the kinetics of goodies, i.e., polyphenol content had a faster release time in tea leafs, and independent of infusion time, when adressing tea bags, the polyphenol content was dependent on the infusion time, probably due to the swelling rates verified by the comparing research group. At the end of the day, it all boils down to tea quality.

Would you rather have low quality loose leaf tea or good quality bagged tea? Common sense is always the key? What is you way of brewing tea?

CFER Labs is your partner in food and drinks R&D. Obtain your free of charge workplan by clicking here.

Sources

J Food Sci Technol. 2017 Jul;54(8):2474-2484. doi: 10.1007/s13197-017-2690-9. Epub 2017 May 18. “Swelling and infusion of tea in tea bags.”
Avicenna J Phytomed. 2016 May-Jun;6(3):313-21. “Effect of different brewing times on antioxidant activity and polyphenol content of loosely packed and bagged black teas (Camellia sinensis L.).”

Take a few minutes to search in yeast commercial suppliers catalogs and you will quickly find out the large number of different strains that are available for brewing beer and other beverages. Brewing yeast species were initially isolated from nature and later also domesticated in different parts of the world under different environments, which resulted in a variety of yeast strains with great physiological differences. The invention of the microscope had a key role on the initial identification and characterization of the different strains. Nowadays, the continuous development of microbiological and genetic tools along with new analytical techniques has contributed to a deeper understanding of the specific capabilities and limitations of each strain, as well as for the identification of novel yeast types.

Every year the number of fully characterized yeast strains increases and there are a few companies with culture banks that have a great variety of yeast strains: White Labs, WYEAST, Fermentis, Lallemand, Mangrove Jack’s, Imperial Yeast (organic) or CooLAB (organic), among others. In each website, you can find descriptions of each strain that will help you choosing the right strain for the intended beer type.

Start simple

If you are in doubt, start simple and brew with a yeast type which is a “work horse”, meaning that it will efficiently work for a great variety of beer styles. Still, there are some factors important to consider when choosing the yeast for alcoholic fermentation:

Attenuation – how much sugar can the yeast convert into alcohol. Usually, commercial suppliers divide the yeast strains in low, medium and high attenuation, varying from approximately 65 to 85%. The specific attenuation will impact not only the alcohol % but also the mouthfeel and flavor;

Flocculation level – how easy does the yeast cells settle after fermentation. This is an important feature when you wish to re-use the yeast to another fermentation. Besides that, a low flocculation yeast can lead to a lower attenuation, resulting in a worty flavor. On the other hand, if your yeast of choice has a high flocculation, the final beer will tend to be cloudier and you will be able to taste the yeast, like in weißbier or witbier;

Alcohol tolerance – alcohol level that inhibits and potentially kills your fermenting yeast. Choosing a strain that can stand the alcohol percentage you are planning to reach is extremely important, especially in those styles that require a high alcohol % such as Imperial Stout or Belgium Ale;

Temperature – each strain has a range of temperatures where it can grow, and it is important to know both the optimal and the extreme temperatures that the yeast can stand;

Metabolite production and sensoric properties – what kind of flavors and aromas are produced by the yeast strain. There are several metabolites (intermediates or final products of yeast metabolism) that can contribute to the sensoric properties of the finished beer: esters, carbonyl compounds, phenolics, higher “fusel” alcohols and fatty acids:

  • Esters are the resulting compounds from a reaction between an acid and an alcohol, and they are often associated with fruity notes in beer (e.g. ethyl acetate or isoamyl acetate). The specific types of esters formed, as well as their concentration, are strain-specific but the fermentation conditions also influence the ability of the yeast strain to produce them.  For instance, there are reports that high gravity brewing and high fermentation temperatures (20-25oC) result in higher levels of esters (as in some ale beer types).
  • More than 200 compounds with a carbonyl functional group have been found in beer, contributing for both its flavor and stability. Diacetyl and acetaldehyde are examples of carbonyl metabolites and probably the most “unwanted” compounds by brewers (except in some very specific beers), since they are considered off-flavors. Both the formation and conversion rates of those metabolites is strain-dependent, so the time that you will need to get a matured beer will depend on your yeast of choice. This is particularly important in large-scale production where time is a key control parameter.
  • Phenols are commonly associated with a medicinal or spicy aroma, and some specific types add astringency and/or bitterness in the finished beer. For instance, the earthy aroma present in Brett beers (fermented with Brettanomyces yeast) is directly linked to the formation of phenolic compounds.
  • When present in abundant levels, higher fusel alcohols, such as propanol and butanol, can result in fruity, floral and/or wine-like notes. Their formation can have a positive impact in ale beers but normally are not desired in ale types.
  • Fatty acids are essential elements in the yeast central metabolism, but they can also be broken down into staling compounds such as (E)-2-nonenal, which will give a “cardboard” character in the finished beer.
The presence of fermentation derived metabolites brings complexity to the final product, but in some specific cases they can also easily become overwhelming and give off-flavors.

In addition to the points mentioned above, when brewing at large-scale breweries there a few other parameters to consider when choosing the right yeast: stress tolerance, fermentation yield and productivity, mutation stability, among others. These are especially important for the re-usage of yeast in several fermentation cycles, which is a must in large-scale breweries to sustain the economical viability of the production process.

The number of identified and characterized yeast strains will increase more and more over the next years. I personally believe that some unique flavor profiles are yet to be found, and that will consequently expand the range of beer styles. If you are already brewing, what are your favorite yeast strains and how did you choose them? Tell us your yeastperiences in the comments below.

CFER Labs is your partner in food and drinks R&D. Obtain your free of charge workplan by clicking here.

Sources

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/jib.49 
https://www.esa.org/esablog/research/spontaneous-fermentation-the-role-of-microorganisms-in-beer/http://www.wyeastlab.com/fermentation
https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/yeast-fermentation-and-the-making-of-beer-14372813
https://www.whitelabs.com/
https://www.grainfather.com/blog/week-60-choosing-a-yeast-strain-for-your-beer/
http://www.equippedbrewer.com/equipment-and-supplies/how-to-choose-the-right-yeast-for-your-craft-beverage
https://beerandbrewing.com/how-to-choose-a-yeast-strain/
http://scottjanish.com/esters-and-fusel-alcohols/

 

In the present demanding market, where a constant search for foods with high benefit-quality ratio is increasingly taking place, the innovation possibilities often lie in the most common and versatile everyday foods, such as the egg.

Used in almost every aspect of the gastronomy, from confectionery to soups, an egg is an important ally for all chefs and kitchen households. An egg alone is one of the most nutritious and appreciated foods on the planet. It is a high protein and low carb intake food, excellent for those who want a simple, easy and healthy snack, such as the common hard-boiled version. In fact, a whole egg contains a relevant amount of several important vitamins and minerals.

The nutritious egg – the forgotten superfood?

Along with milk, eggs contain the highest biological value for protein. One egg has only 75 calories but 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat. According to the reference daily intake (RDI) nutrient values for a healthy adult, a large egg has vitamin A (19% RDI), responsible for immune system and good vision maintenance and a set of B vitamins, such as riboflavin (42% RDI), pantothenic acid (28% RDI), pyridoxine (9% RDI), folate (11% RDI) and cobalamin (46% RDI), essential for cell division processes and mental health.

Egg yolks are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D (15% RDI), essential for strong bones and muscles, as well as overall health. In fact, the majority of the egg’s vitamins and minerals are located within the yolk. Vitamin E, iron, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids are also found in relevant concentrations in the egg.

The high quality proteins of the egg, essentially albumins, mucoproteins and globulins, contain a set of essential amino-acids like leucine, tryptophan, methionine and other non-essential aminoacids, which will act as precursor molecules in human metabolism. It is also noteworthy the high concentration of choline (60% RDI), an essential vitamin-like nutrient involved in the metabolism of molecules necessary for good neural-muscle function and its control in humans. For muscle building and fitness athletes the ingestion of these nutrients is of extreme importance for cell regeneration and muscle growth.

Cholesterol is perhaps the most controversial nutrient in the egg, one large egg containing more than two thirds of the RDI for this nutrient, currently set at 300 mg. However, several recent studies showed that there is no significant correlation between the egg’s cholesterol and an increase of blood harmful LDL cholesterol levels in healthy humans. The ingestion of one whole egg a day, preferably hard-boiled, is recurrently suggested by nutritionists and medical specialists as an important incorporation in one’s diet.

One whole egg contains an impressive set of nutrients in quite relevant concentrations.

The egg market

From over the 75 million tons of eggs produced worldwide, the Asia-Pacific region represents the biggest market for egg and egg products, being India, Indonesia, Japan and China the key players due to its population and economic growth over the last decades. China alone is responsible for almost 40% of both worldwide production and consumption. North and Latin American regions are also important markets regarding egg products, with USA leading the charts, followed by Mexico and Brazil.

In the European context, according to the last stats of the European Commission for Agriculture and Rural Development, more than 7 million tons of eggs were produced in 2018 within the economic space, where 7 of the 28 members, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and UK, were responsible for over 80% of the total production. If the Russian and Turkey markets were to be included (European countries not in EU) the Economic European Space market would represent twice its actual numbers regarding the egg production and consumption. The Portuguese case represents a modest percentage, with only 0,1 million tons of eggs produced for consumption in the last year. Although lifestyle tendencies such as veganism or higher healthcare awareness are rising in popularity, these do not seem to be threatening the growing tendency of the egg market, especially in the Asian continent.

From farm to table

An average person consumes 180 eggs per year. The majority of these eggs (about 50%) are produced by enriched feed hens in cages followed by barn-raised hens (26%), free range hens (14%) and organic feed hens (5%). The difference between all these eggs raising hens are concerned to their diet and growth space.

Eggshell size, form and specially color are commonly associated by consumers as main characteristics for egg quality, however, this is only dependent on the hens’ breed, size and feed.

Whiter breeds tend to lay white eggs while darker ones tend to lay browner eggshells. As for the yolk, the same applies, being the hens’ diet the major factor responsible for its color. While grain-fed chickens produce pale-yellow yolks, hens fed with rich pigmented and nutritious food from insects, vegetables, fruits and grasses produce deep orange yolks. The real egg quality is given by the age of the hen and its feeding over the growing process, where older hens tend to lay thinner eggshells and shorter shelf-life eggs than younger and nutrient controlled-feed hens.

The hen’s nutrition plays the major role in the colour of the final egg yolk.

Applications beyond breakfast

From cosmetic industry to medicine, the egg components are used in a wide range of areas for remarkably different goals. Nowadays it is easy to find different forms of whole egg, yolk or egg white in retail stores, ranging from solid to concentrated, crystalized, frozen or deep-frozen states. From the yolk is extracted its oil, consisting mainly of triglycerides and other elements, such as lecithin, cholesterol, biotin and xanthopylls. This non-allergic oil becomes free from egg proteins and is therefore allowed for use in cosmetics or dermatological products for hair fall, eczemas or dermatitis. The natural pigments (xanthopylls) present in the yolk, lutein (E161b) and zeaxanthin (E161h), are also of high interest for the pharmaceutical and food industry for their attractive yellow and orange colors.

Lecithin (E322) was actually first isolated from the egg yolk in 1846 by the French chemist and pharmacist Theodore Gobley. This product is currently in high demand due to its emulsifying, lubricant and stabilizing properties, which were commonly obtained with the use of soybean oil. However, EU legislation has been inciting the use of allergen-free natural lecithin food sources, minimizing the use of soybean. Lecithin is also a molecule used in a variety of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products due to its stabilizing capacities and choline enrichment.

Eggs are also used as ingredients for alcoholic drinks, as in the case of the famous eggnog, or as clarifying agents for superior category wines and rich broths. In the pharmaceutical sector, the egg has been used for over 70 years in the manufacturing of flu vaccines due to its concentration of albumins, mucoproteins and other globulins. The eggshells are also a valuable resource for organic agriculture as a source of natural calcium.

The numerous shapes that the egg can assume are a clear representation of its high acceptance and versatility, with verified health benefits at an affordable price.

CFER Labs is your partner in food R&D. Obtain your free of charge workplan by clicking here.

Sources
http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/markets/index
https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/processed-egg-market
https://www.transparencymarketresearch.com/egg-products-market.html
Miranda, J. M. et al, (2015), Egg and Egg-Derived Foods: Effects on Human Health and Use as Functional Foods, Nutrients, vol. 7, 706-729.
Garcés-Rimon M. et al., (2015) Egg protein hydrolysates: New culinary textures, International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science, vol. 3, 17-22.
Wu Jianping et al., (2014) Eggs and Egg product processing, Food Processing: Principles and Applications, published by John Wiley & Sons,  2nd edition, chapter 19, 437-455.

The final countdown has started and with only a few days to go until we welcome 2019, it’s now time to begin the preparations for the last night of the year. There are a few things to cross off the list like rethink our New Year’s Eve resolutions after another year of messing up, stock up the pantry with raisins, have the loved ones around, organize the fireworks and invite that friend good at blowing up things and… sort out the sparkling wine! People have different ways of celebrating the start of the new year depending on the culture and traditions, but one thing seems to be always in our hand after midnight regardless of who and where we are and it is a glass of sparkling wine. Bubbles seem to sparkle the moments of celebration and on this article we will explore the ‘when, what and why’ of this festive drink.

England or France? The paradox.

Just like many other happy accidents throughout the human history, sparkling wine could be the penicillin of the wine world as there are records of incidental fizziness since Biblical times. However, the product owes its existence mainly to the development of technology unrelated to the production of the wine itself. We must ignore all the faults, accidents and the effervescence attributed to the phases of the moon and focus on the year of 1662 when Christopher Merret stated to the Royal Society in London “our wine-coopers of recent times use vast quantities of sugar and molasses to all sorts of wines to make them drink brisk and sparkling”.

There is an erroneous believe that Dom Pérignon invented sparkling wine in the late 1690s, but Merret’s report a few decades earlier is the first documented proof that still wine was intentionally turned into sparkling by adding sugar and molasses and by that time only England had the required technology to make it: the ability to produce stronger glass and the reintroduction of cork as closures.

A strong glass bottle able to withstand the high pressure of sparkling wine is mandatory and England was able to produce it in the early 1600s by using coal-fired glass furnaces at much higher temperature instead of wood-fired ones used in France, only able to produce structurally weaker glass. Also, it is essential to use a closure able to withhold the pressure and back in the XVII century it was cork. Cork was lost during the decline of the Roman Empire and only rediscovered by France in 1685 at the earliest, but England was shipping bottled wine from France sealed with corks decades earlier in the XVI century.

England had advanced glass technology in the early XVII century, which led the country to surpass the French competition.

It is clear that England had the knowledge and the means to produce and preserve the effervescence of a sparkling wine, the paradox (and what makes everything much exciting!) is the fact that they were making it with wines shipped from… Champagne! The primary fermentation in this cold region in the north of France would prematurely stop because of the low temperatures late in the season and naturally restart a few months later in the warmer spring days.

The process

It took a few decades to get to the product with the characteristics as we know in our days, essentially to understand and optimize the science behind the effervescence and establish the relation between the sugar required to the second fermentation to produce a certain amount of carbon dioxide (pressure). In our days there are strict legislation to produce this special wine, with the OIV stating that a sparkling is a wine supersaturated in carbon dioxide (CO2) from an exclusive endogenous origin (secondary fermentation), resulting in an excess pressure of this gas in the bottle of at least 3.5bars at 20°C (68ºF) or 3.0bars for bottles less than 0.25L.

The production of sparkling wine can be separated in two main stages: base wine production and second fermentation/ageing. The base wine production follows the general principles of a white wine, with the particularity that the grapes are harvested earlier in the season to retain a higher acidity (essential to the freshness and balance) and have a lower sugar content (potential alcohol normally under 11%). Once musts have fermented to dryness and the wines are filtered, stabilized and eventually fined, they are ready to the second stage: blending, second fermentation and ageing.

Blending or preparing the cuvée is generally a critical moment to define the quality of the wine and to which winemakers pay great attention.

It consists on blending wines from different vintages, sites, varieties or even press fractions, to achieve desired characteristics and consistency. The cuvée is ready for the second fermentation once the tirage liquor is added: the required sugar to achieve 5-6bars of pressure in bottle (±4g/L → 1bar) and yeast.

Most of the sparkling wine, and particularly the premium quality sparkling, is produced by the Traditional Method or Méthode Champenoise (Champagne), where the second fermentation occurs in bottle. This is followed by ageing on lees for a certain period of time (variable), removal of yeast lees and sediments by riddling and disgorging, dosage and corking. The dosage permits topping up the bottles after disgorging and adjust the final desired sugar level by adding a more or less sweet wine/syrup (tirage liquor). Along with the production method, the final sugar level of the sparkling wine is the base of one of the classification systems:

Brut Nature – 0-3g/L
Extra Brut – 0-6g/L
Brut – 0-12g/L
Extra-dry – 12-17g/L
Dry – 17-32
Demi-sec – 32-50
Sweet (Doux) – more than 50g/L

The Traditional Method has the particularity that the bottle where the second fermentation occurs is same that reaches the consumer. There’s no discussion possible when it comes to the high quality wines produced by this method, notably the fine bubbles produced and the bouquet developed during ageing on lees, but it is labour intensive and time demanding and during the 20th century other methods and technologies were developed in order to minimize the production costs. In the Transfer Method the sparkling benefits from fermentation and ageing on lees in bottle, but riddling and disgorging steps are eliminated as the bottles are then emptied to a tank under isobaric pressure for filtration, dosage and bottling. The Charmat Method took another step forward on bringing the production costs down by allowing lower quality sparkling production entirely in stainless steel tanks, with the wine being bottled only when it is finished and ready for sale.

The Traditional Method is tipically employed in higher quality sparkling wines such as Champagne.

Innovation and future of sparkling wine

When it comes to new technologies developed in recent decades, I have to mention the use of immobilized yeast in sparkling wine production as the Portuguese company Proenol has pioneered the industrial production of immobilized yeast in the world. The immobilization of yeast in a calcium alginate matrix allows the wine to remain clear and when used in the Traditional Method it will shorten the riddling time from several days/weeks to a few seconds with the beads settling immediately.

Sparkling wine production worldwide is on the rise and has seen the biggest growth in terms of volume and value in recent years. Between 2003 and 2013 there was an increase in 40% of production and by 2017 it accounted for 8% by volume and 19% by value in the world wine trade.

I love a good sparkling, but I have to admit that I’m not the greatest enthusiast of bubbles. However, it was my passport to the wine world and I honestly find fascinating the whole process of traditional sparkling wine production and the short but intensive history of the wine. Won’t complain if I spend the first moments of 2019 sipping again ‘Millésime Bruto 2013’ by Ataíde Semedo, the last great Espumante that I had the pleasure to drink. From Bairrada, of course. Salut!

Apple cider is a drink mostly associated with Europe and the United States. While it is growing in popularity all over the world, mostly as a naturally gluten free and refreshing alcoholic drink, South America still remains as a mostly unknown market for apple cider.

Scott Jones is a Peru-based English cider maker, one of the first cider makers in the continent and currently the Peruvian cider market leader. In this interview, Scott approached how he started his cider journey, the pros and cons of exploring a virgin market and the challenges for the future.

Hi Scott. Thank you very much for your time for this interview. So, you are the current market leader in the Peruvian cider scene. How did it all start?

Hello, thank you very much for the invite. Well, having taught English in South America for 4 years since 2010, I decided to stay in Peru for longer. The easiest way I could do this was to obtain a business visa, and so I started to think about which type of business I would like to start here. The market for craft beer was in its infancy but growing steadily, but being a cider drinker from the south of England, I didn’t really appreciate the craft beer scene and had been missing cider from home; conversations over beers with expats had often covered what would make a good business, and making cider always seemed to come up time and time again. So the seed had been sown a couple years before I was in a position to consider it as a viable business.

Having decided to start the first cider company in Peru (and probably most South American countries) I took out a bank loan from the UK and wired over to Peru. I immediately discovered how running a business in Peru was going to be, and that was difficult, frustrating and illogical. So the first hurdle was that I couldn’t open a bank account without a visa, but I couldn’t start the visa process without depositing money in a Peruvian account (to show you have funds to open a business) – this would be one of many hurdles I had to overcome to open and run a business as a foreigner in Peru.

Apple cider is enjoying a remarkable growth in world markets, motivated by its low alcohol and natural profile.

Well, we can see that was not an easy start.

Not at all. Once I received my business visa the next problem was to source machinery to produce the cider. The most important machine was a mill to pulp the apple and this had to made from scratch. I paid well above the average for this which was what is known as ‘gringo’ price, I’d soon get used to negociating hard on most prices. I was very lucky to hear about a stainless steel fabricator that made in bottle carbonating machines. The machine was a design rip off of machines that could be found for around the same price in Europe or the US, importing anything into Peru is problematic and high import taxes, so I was happy to pay what would be the same price as Europe or US and not have the headache and stress of importing.

Using my previous Engineering experience I designed and built a sturdy rack and press, and having found a small place to rent I was ready to start production. My first attempt was 300kg of dessert apples, I managed to squeeze 230 litres, and using ‘craft cider making’ book by Andrew Lea I produced my first batch of cider without too many problems.

Who were your first costumers? Was it easy to convince them to consume a Peruvian cider?

My main market to begin with was the expat community and expat owned bars and restaurant, sales were slow as the price point was quite high, so the Peruvian market wasn’t willing to pay the high price and risk the possibility of not liking it. In the first year or two it was mainly expats and tourists consuming my cider.

What about now? How was the market growth?

Having grown my business steadily over 4 years, the demand is now high, there are now other small cider producers in the marketplace but total sales are still low compared to the craft beer scene, which is now saturated with the opening of more and more breweries.

When looking at other countries, like the US or Europe, once the craft beer scene explodes and then becomes saturated, cider then has a boom, I’m guessing 2019 will be the year of cider in Peru.

We hope 2019 is indeed the year of cider in Peru.

Hope so, I believe chances are quite high.


What about your ciders? What is their profile?
At the moment I have 5 different types, a dry, medium and sweet, and also a strawberry and passion fruit flavoured ciders, all made with freshly pressed apples and real fruits the artisan way (this means by hand as I still can’t afford expensive equipment !). The dry, medium and passion fruit are the best sellers. All of them are branded as Oltree Cider.
Oltree is the brand crafted by Scott Jones to enter the Peruvian market – there are currently 5 different types available.

Brilliant. What would you say are the main challenges for the future?

The challenges for the future are big money investors opening more commercial style cideries, my plan is to keep at a medium sized production (less than 50,000 litres a year) and keep the artisan spirit of trying different styles and flavours.

We hope it all goes for the best, and also that your experience might inspire new cider makers all over the world to start their businesses. We know it is certainly not easy.

It is definitely not, but it is worth it. My advice is not giving up, adversities will come but in the end it pays off.

Thank you for your time for this interview with CFER, cheers!

Thank you too, cheers!

Many of us have certainly came across the terms ‘Old World’ and ‘New World’ wines while exploring the world of wine, either by participating in wine tastings, reading that interesting review by our favourite wine critic or eventually from that wine nerd friend who only drinks New World wines.

The truth is that the two terms are not always completely understood and often used in a confusing way even within the wine industry. On top of that, the modernisation of the wine world and the ‘flying winemakers’ movement worldwide led to the production of New World wines by style in Old World countries by tradition and vice versa. If I say that Portugal is an Old World country that can produce New World wines would you be surprised? Probably yes, so let’s break it down.

Geography

The first and most basic distinction between both styles is geographic. The Old World countries are mainly located in Europe and Middle East, which includes Portugal, Spain, France, Greece, Germany, Austria, Italy, Georgia, Iraq or Romania among few others. It is generally believed that that domestication of the Vitis vinifera (grapevine used for winemaking) started in this region and that’s where the winemaking roots go deeper.
On the other hand, there’s a group of countries with a more recent wine history where Vitis vinifera was introduced by the explorers and are referred as New World. In this group we have Australia, New Zealand, United States, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, China or Uruguay. To put it in a simple way, if it is not an Old World it will be a New World territory.

Wine styles and the influence of tradition and winemaking philosophy

The geographic location and characteristics of a certain region (such as weather or soil, well known as terroir) have a direct input on the wines’ styles and this could be differentiated by tasting. As a general rule, not always true, the Old World wines come from cooler climate regions and their profile can be described as lighter-bodied, more tannic and acidic, lower alcohol content, savoury, leaner, rustic and earthier.

In the regions of the Old World the tradition and centuries of history take place and the winegrower and winemaker input is heavily regulated by laws, emphasizing the place from where it comes and limiting the human intervention and creativity. Each region is regulated by standards and systems or ‘protected designation of origin’ to which winemakers and wineries must comply. In Portugal these regulations are under the Denominação de Origem Controlada or DOC (similar to the French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – AOC) and start right in the vineyards, establishing permitted varieties, crop yields and vine conduction systems and finishing on the final product, regulating alcohol content or ageing times and methods.

When we jump to a New World region the change in the winemaking philosophy and wine styles can be immediately noticed. The wine is not seem as much as a legacy and culture heritage, but more like a product of science, where technology and modernisation take place and winemaking is opened for experimentation and evolution.

Every step of winemaking tends to be controlled in an extended way and a more analytical approach is taken. The ‘optimum ripeness’ of the fruit is measured to decide the harvest date, the must is inoculated with isolated yeast to offer a predictable wine profile, stainless steel tanks are used and have an integrated temperature control system that allows a precise control of the fermentation temperature within an accuracy of 0.1°C or less, the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Dissolved Oxygen (DO) concentrations are taken as critical during the life time of a wine, the wines are bottled under screw cap instead of cork (the greatness of the screw cap in the wine world will be reviewed in one of my next posts), just to name a few.

Another important characteristic of the New World regions is that they are often located in warmer climates (once again, not always true), which associated with the heavily winemaking input tend to produce riper, bolder, full-bodied, fruit-forward, higher in alcohol, richer, oak-influenced, more polished and cleaner wines.

The influence of oak, brought by prolonged contact with the cask, is normally more prominent in New World style wines.

Labelling

The last big difference between Old and New World wines is the labelling and it all comes down to the tradition and history of the regions mentioned before. The Old World wines are generally labelled only with region, appellation or vineyard and this information is so important that we can deduce grape varieties and eventually the quality of the wine. The classy red Burgundy is a Pinot Noir, the famous Italian Barolo is just a Nebbiolo and if it is a great Portuguese white from Monção e Melgaço we can expect a 100% Alvarinho.

In the New World everything is slightly different once again. Stating the variety and winery in a clear way is the most important thing and almost mandatory. The not so strict regional laws allow the winegrower/winemaker to grow any grape variety anywhere they want to, there’s more chance for experimentation and the consumers in these countries are mainly focused on the variety and less from where it comes.

I started this article stating that ‘Portugal is an Old World country that can produce New World wines’ and if you got this far you probably now understand what I mean. As a Portuguese winemaker working in Australia I feel that the line between Old World and New World is being blurred, the wine world is evolving fast and there’s more crossover between the two worlds than ever in the past. Should we put a savoury and structured Baga from Bairrada in the same bucket as a bold, jammy, strongly American oak-influenced Syrah from Alentejo in the same bucket just because they are both made in Portugal? No. If I ever use these terms to describe a wine it would be purely based on the style.

The India Pale Ale (IPA) is surely the most famous style at the moment in the world of beer. Go to the market and you will find an abundance of India Pale Ales, Session IPA’s, Black IPA’s, Belgian IPA’s, Imperial IPA’s…to name a few. One might naturally ask why are IPA’s everywhere – could hops be addictive?

To really understand IPA’s, we should travel to the 18th century.

Welcome to the 18th century British India and to the trading attractiveness of the East. Here, powerful trading companies, like the East India Company (EIC), possess important commercial warehouses to trade commodities with the rest of the World, provisioning the colonial army in parallel. Back in the subcontinent, British settlers are looking for a refreshing taste of home and are everything but pleased with the stale, infected beer coming from the Mother Land. Taking at least six months to travel to India, and having to cross the equator twice, the Pales and Bitters of the day, with low alcohol and lightly hopped, did not stand a chance.

 

IPA’s tipically make use of generous amount of flavour and aroma hops, such as Citra or Amarillo, which provides them with their characteristic fragrant hop intensity.

Back in London, close to the EIC’s docks, the ingenious Bow Brewery is establishing a new style of beer, with higher original gravity, intensely hopped and designed for maturation for at least one year. The owner, George Hodgson, has also come up with a business approach that granted extended credit to the beer purchasers, favouring his new beer over the big breweries product. Unexpectedly, this rough, highly attenuated beer matured remarkably well with the scorching heat and arduous journey of the supplying transcontinental ships, making this beer a tremendous success among its consumers in India. Hops preserving characteristics are well known, and the higher concentration of alpha acids made IPA’s fit for journey while mellowing.

From this moment on, other British breweries, such as Burton located ones, would start to replicate Hodgson’s successful style of pale ale, acquiring important business status over the years and condemning Bow Brewery to the oblivion. The India Pale Ale was born, soon migrating to the American continent by the hand of John Labatt. The hop addiction was starting.

The evolution of a style

Today, an IPA is tipically defined as a beer with around 6% of alcohol, 60 IBU’s, not necessarily pale and surely with a lot of different shapes. If the classic English style may be somehow more balanced, American IPA’s are their eccentric brother, ‘showcasing modern American or New World hop varieties (…), with a clean fermentation profile, dry finish, and clean, supporting malt, allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through. (BJCP, 2015). The popularity of IPA’s brought them to the forefront of brewing innovation, with Witbiers, Red Ales or Sour Beers being adapted to the IPA profile and pleasing the craving of beer connoisseurs; new styles of IPA are constantly being designed, such as the New England Indian Pale Ale (NEIPA) or the Brut IPA.

India Pale Ale is the perfect example of how a beer co-evolves over time and how a specific style becomes a hit. The hop phenomenon is worldwide, not only in the USA or the United Kingdom, but also in Spain. When I started brewing, in Catalonia, only one of the fellow breweries was making IPA’s; now practically all the breweries of Catalonia and Spain are brewing IPA’s and it surely is the more successful style. You may not like the craft IPA from the local brewery, but the hops assertive bitterness, spectacular aromas and surprising flavours will provide an untedious experience, and you are likely to come back for more.

Tea is a passion. Tea is an experience and an endeavor to untraveled worlds. I asked myself what would I say If I only had one chance to talk to people about tea? The present piece is the combination of what I love, with who I am, a biochemist concerned with nature, animals, and people, for a better world.

After water, tea is the most consumed beverage worldwide. The tea plant is native to China and it has been long known to Chinese for its medicinal properties. In fact, tea was used as a medicine in former times being adored by Emperors and recognized by Taoists and Buddhists as a precious element in ones’ lives. Nowadays, tea has also been recognized by the scientific community as a substance with outstanding health properties and benefits, with thousands of scientific papers being published throughout the years. Tea health benefits include, but are not limited to, cardioprotective effects, antioxidant, anticarcinogenic and antimicrobial properties. However, concerns about tea consumption are also rising within the literature. Tea health concerns are essentially related to the presence of pesticides and Fluoride (F).

The high temperatures involved in the brewing of tea may extract more contaminants from the plant into the drinking water.

Pesticides are used to prevent tea crop diseases and the attack of some tea loving insects to improve the yield of the crop and the farmers’ profit. Some of the reported negative effects on human health related to the exposure to pesticides during normal daily life habits involve gastrointestinal, neurological, carcinogenic, respiratory and reproductive problems. Pesticides are of special concern in tea due to several reasons.

The organic choice

Tea is a highly sensitive crop and therefore a heavy mix of different pesticides can be used to preserve it. As the leaves are not washed prior to processing, residues present on their surface are not removed. Also, since tea is brewed at high temperatures, the extraction of pesticides into the drinking water is high. Additionally, as some teas are consumed in powder, like matcha, the whole leaf is ingested, making sure that not only the water-soluble pesticides are ingested, but also the less or non-water-soluble ones as well.

On the other hand, fluoride accumulates in tea plants after being absorbed from the soil. The ingestion of F has been related to hypothyroidism, neurotoxicity, fluorosis, arthritic disease, and musculoskeletal disorders. Fluoride accumulates mostly in tea leaves, especially inside the old ones. Fluoride is quite soluble in water and will easily be present in your favorite cup of brewed tea.

As there is not yet an ideal balance between the economic interests and health protection, is there something we can do to avoid the exposure to these tea contaminants and benefit from the remarkable health properties attributed to tea? Yes! Definitely!

Organic teas are the best choice when you do not know where your tea is coming from. Besides being controlled for pesticides, organic teas have also shown lower levels of fluoride. A direct relationship has been found between low quality tea and higher concentrations of F. In the case of tea, the price is generally a good indicator of its quality.

If you brew your own tea at home, you can drink a cup of tea for as cheap as 0.05€ a cup, sometimes even cheaper than a cup of bottled water! Cheaper tea, usually available to the mass market, is made from the oldest and lower quality leaves, which means they most probably have a high fluoride concentration.

Alternative ways to minimize the ingestion of contaminants

Different types of tea, such as white tea made with the youngest leaves, can also be naturally absent from fluoride, as it tends to accumulate in old leaves. If you still have old batches of tea that you don’t want to waste, you can always try to minimize the concentration of contaminants by washing your tea. There is an old tradition when drinking loose leaf tea which consists of rinsing and discarding the first water in contact with the tea leaves. This process started many centuries ago when tea processing was not quite refined as now, and it aimed at washing off dirt or dust.

Considering fluoride and the solubility of some pesticides in water, if you are drinking non-organic, poor quality tea, rinsing the tea first can be a good option already proven by some studies to reduce the level of contaminants, although not 100% efficient, and at the expense of major flavor loss when dealing with low quality teas.

Choosing a good quality organic tea is still your best option. 

As a concluding remark, although not faced with Hamlet’s striking dilemma on life or death, when confronted with:

To tea, or not to Tea?

My answer is: To Tea with Education.

Sources

Tea and Health: Studies in Humans (2013) in Current Pharmaceutical Design
Chemical Pesticides and Human Health: The Urgent Need for a New Concept in Agriculture (2016)
In Frontiers in Public Health
Worldwide Regulations of Standard Values of Pesticides for Human Health Risk Control: A Review (2017)
in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Fluoride content in tea and its relationship with tea quality. (2004)
in Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry
Black Tea Source, Production, and Consumption: Assessment of Health Risks of Fluoride Intake in New Zealand (2017)
In Journal of Environmental and Public Health