Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Fermentation refers to intervention by microorganisms, mostly beneficial for stabilizing a food product, confer new sensory quality, improved nutrition and food preservation. Pickle is a classical example of fermentation extensively used to preserve vegetables like lime and lemon, cucumber, green mango and a host of other vegetable materials. Conversion of milk to yogurt involving Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) is known to our ancestors and lactic fermentation is used extensively to manufacture a wide variety of dairy based processed products. Ripening of cheese by a variety of microbes achieves distinct flavor liked by many consumers. But beverages based on fermentation are far and few. Of course the whole range of natural liquor products are manufactured by yeast fermentation though these are not, strictly speaking, normal beverages that can be categorized as nutritional food products. Lassi and Chaas derived from milk by Lactic fermentation are beverages consumed in many states across India. Recent introduction of spiced butter milk in tetra pack containers by Amul Cooperative is the only fermented nutritious beverage that has some visibility in the Indian market.

Vegetable juices are now becoming popular because of their health promoting properties due to presence of vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytochemicals. Though vegetables contain high levels of water, extraction of juice is a technological challenge and pectic enzyme of microbial origin does play a role in separating juice from the fibrous matrix. However such juice products cannot be compared to the original raw material as substantial portion is lost as pomace during processing. Such juice products either singly or in combination can still be formidable for promoting health if regularly consumed. Since eating large quantity of vegetable is often abhorred especially by kids and youngsters, juice products, made attractive and acceptable can be the best option.

A new approach in making the vegetable more acceptable could be fermenting them using Lactic acid bacteria which can generate mild flavors and acidity and developing beverages based on them and fruit pulps. From sensory angle vegetable juice may not find high degree of acceptance and hence they need to be diluted to derive satisfactory beverages. Favorite fruit pulps like mango, pineapple, guava, apple, apricot, strawberry, orange etc can be blended and sweetened to create a variety of drinks with high health promoting attributes. Generally blending of fermented vegetable juice and natural fruit pulps in the ratio 1:2 can be expected to yield acceptable beverage base for further conversion to RTC drinks. Pioneering work done in one of the Universities in Himachal Pradesh is an eye opener and must be taken up for further development on a priority basis. Fermented carrots, radish and cucumber in combination with mango, apricot and pears were found to be acceptable providing a new avenue for better utilization of many vegetables grown in the country. Probably MFPI should take up the cue and promote this line of research for improving the health of the population, farmers and the industry!


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