KANSAS CITY — Fermentation may bring to mind alcoholic beverages, sauerkraut and Asian dishes, but it is playing roles in today’s trends as well. Flavors in ready-to-drink beverages and cost efficiencies in sugar reduction are two examples.

Two types of coffee fermentation are involved in developing coffee-based extracts and ingredients from S&D Coffee & Tea, Inc., Concord, N.C., that are used in R.-T.-D. beverages.

“Particularly in the post-harvest processing of coffee cherries, fermentation has a lot to do with the flavor development of those coffees — how they ultimately taste, whether you’re brewing coffee for a cup of coffee, or you’re making an espresso, or you’re making an extract for a concentrate for the ready- to-drink market as an ingredient,” said Kyle Newkirk, senior vice-president of commodities and global sourcing.

When coffee is picked from the tree, it’s a fruit, a coffee cherry, Mr. Newkirk said. Inside the coffee fruit is a seed with skin and pulp around it.

S&D Coffee & Tea RTD cold brew“In making coffee extract, we only use the seed portion (or coffee bean after roasted),” Mr. Newkirk said. “We can also make a ‘cascara’ extract from the coffee husks (dried coffee cherry).”

In wild fermentation, coffee cherries are put out to dry, either on a concrete patio or a raised bed on a net. This method develops many different flavors, Mr. Newkirk said. A bold coffee impact from the bean may cut through the milk, sweeteners and other flavors in R.-T.-D. beverages.

In another fermentation process, called the wash process, coffee cherries are picked off a tree and run through a pulping machine that strips off the red coffee skin along with some of the pulp that surrounds the cherry. Coffee seeds then are placed into tanks or holding vats and fermented.

“If we have a client that is looking for a coffee extract say that’s lighter in body and higher in acidity, then we are looking to use washed coffees for those extracts,” Mr. Newkirk said.

Mizkan America ferments saccharified rice in developing its cooking wine flavors. Saccharification is the process of breaking down the rice starch (polysaccharides) into sugars that yeast can metabolize, said Maggie Harvey, new product manager for Mizkan America, Mount Prospect, Ill.

Two cooking wines found in the Mizkan America portfolio are sake and shao xing.

“Sake is a Japanese-fermented wine made from rice with a high alcohol content,” said Juliet Greene, corporate chef for Mizkan America. “As a cooking wine, it adds umami and a slight sweetness in the flavor profile. It is typically used in sauces and soups to add flavor and used with meats to tenderize.”

Shao xing, a Chinese cooking wine that has similar traits to a dry sherry, often is used in stir fry and marinades, she said.

“Many consider shao xing the secret ingredient in Chinese cooking that adds depth and complexity of flavor to the sauces and dishes,” she said.

Shao Xing rice cooking wines

Fermentation is a focal point for a joint venture being formed by Cargill, Minneapolis, and Royal DSM, Heerlen, The Netherlands. Called Avansya, the joint venture will produce Rebaudioside M and Rebaudioside D zero-calorie, high-intensity sweeteners through fermentation of baker’s yeast. Reb M and Reb D are two of the sweetest steviol glycosides, which also are found in stevia leaves, and more closely resemble the taste of sugar.

The Reb M and Reb D steviol glycosides, which are more cost-effective because of the fermentation process, will be sold under the EverSweet brand name that Cargill launched at a commercial level earlier this year. The joint venture, a 50-50 partnership, should be finalized in the first quarter of 2019.

“Steviol glycosides by fermentation are the first products to be developed and commercialized,” said Andy Ohmes, global director, high-intensity sweeteners for Cargill. “We anticipate exploring others in the future.”

Farmhouse Culture kimchi gut shotAs Asian dishes become more popular in America, the awareness of fermentation should rise.

“Fermented flavors are very popular in Asian cuisine, including Korean kimchi, which has now become a mainstream ingredient and menu item in America,” Ms. Greene said.

She cited data from a Datassential 2018 survey showing fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha have seen a 25% increase on menus in the United States since 2014.

“However, fermentation has had a long-held culinary place globally for both its health and preservation benefits,” Ms. Greene said. “Western European foods, including cabbage for sauerkraut, are a good example of popular, non-Asian fermented flavors. Other common vegetables suitable for fermentation include carrots, cucumbers, radishes, cauliflower and peppers.”