Making Red Beetroot Juice: How Microbes, Sugar, and Acid Behave

Jim Crocker
14th May, 2024

Making Red Beetroot Juice: How Microbes, Sugar, and Acid Behave

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Study at Sivas Cumhuriyet University compared probiotic and spontaneous fermentation of red beetroot juice
  • Probiotic fermentation with Lc. paracasei produced more lactic acid, less acidic than spontaneous fermentation
  • Both methods yielded high levels of good bacteria, beneficial for gut health
Red beetroot juice (RBJ) is not only a vibrant and nutritious drink but also a subject of scientific inquiry due to its fermentation potential and health benefits. Researchers at Sivas Cumhuriyet University have embarked on a study to compare the effects of different fermentation methods on RBJ, focusing on the use of a probiotic starter culture versus traditional spontaneous fermentation[1]. Fermentation is a process where microorganisms like bacteria and yeasts convert sugars in food into other compounds, such as lactic acid. It's a natural preservation method and can enhance the nutritional profile and flavor of foods. Spontaneous fermentation relies on the natural presence of microorganisms, while controlled fermentation uses specific starter cultures to guide the process[2]. Both methods have their place in food production, but understanding their impact on the final product is crucial for both quality and health benefits. In the study, researchers introduced Lactobacillus paracasei, a probiotic bacterium, into pasteurized RBJ and monitored its growth, acid production, and sugar utilization. They then compared these results to those of RBJ left to ferment spontaneously. Probiotics like Lc. paracasei are live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host[3]. They are often selected for controlled fermentation due to their known health-promoting properties. The findings showed that the addition of Lc. paracasei led to a slightly lower pH drop compared to spontaneous fermentation, indicating a less acidic environment. This controlled fermentation method also resulted in greater production of lactic and acetic acid, substances that contribute to the characteristic tangy taste and preservation of fermented foods. Notably, the ratio of these acids was different between the two methods, with the Lc. paracasei samples showing a higher lactic acid to acetic acid ratio. Sugar consumption patterns also differed between the methods. The starter culture demonstrated a greater consumption of sucrose, the main sugar in RBJ. Despite the decrease in sucrose, levels of fructose and glucose remained constant throughout the fermentation, which is an interesting point considering the importance of sugars in providing energy and sweetness to foods[4]. Both fermentation methods resulted in high counts of lactic acid bacteria, exceeding 8 log CFU/mL, which is an indication of active fermentation and potential probiotic benefits. The study's time-course analysis showed a significant correlation between time and the production of lactic and acetic acids in the RBJ samples with Lc. paracasei, suggesting that the starter culture's activity was consistent and predictable over the fermentation period. This research not only contributes to our understanding of fermentation processes but also has implications for the health benefits associated with fermented RBJ. The presence of probiotics and the resulting acids can influence gut health and have been linked to a host of benefits, such as improved digestion and immune function[3]. Additionally, the nutritional content of RBJ, including its sugars, organic acids, and phenolic compounds, is known to contribute to human health, offering antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties[4][5]. In conclusion, the study from Sivas Cumhuriyet University provides valuable insights into how different fermentation methods can influence the characteristics of red beetroot juice. The controlled use of a probiotic starter culture like Lc. paracasei can lead to a higher production of beneficial acids and a more consistent fermentation process compared to spontaneous methods. This has potential implications for the production of fermented foods, suggesting that controlled fermentation with specific probiotics could enhance both the health benefits and quality of the final product.



Main Study

1) Production of red beetroot juice by different methods: Kinetics of microbial growth, sugar consumption, and acid production.

Published 15th May, 2024 (future Journal edition)

Related Studies

2) Opportunities and Challenges of Understanding Community Assembly in Spontaneous Food Fermentation.

3) Advantages and disadvantages of non-starter lactic acid bacteria from traditional fermented foods: Potential use as starters or probiotics.

4) Influence of industrial and alternative farming systems on contents of sugars, organic acids, total phenolic content, and the antioxidant activity of red beet (Beta vulgaris L. ssp. vulgaris Rote Kugel).

5) The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease.

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