Fermentation : Traditional Biotechnology

by Ben Reade. The world of microorganisms is vast and, relative to other areas of biology, poorly understood at a scientific level. Through millennia of experimenting humans have developed methods for using this invisible, but expansive world of microorganisms. The microbial world is defined by size, the multitude of species that this bracket covers is of varying taxonomic groups, and the variety within each is astounding. Taking the example of fungi, there are approximately 74,000 described of an estimated 1,500,000. Biologists have described around 3000 bacteria, which is an estimated 0.5% of the total bacterial species on planet earth (Boekout and Samson, 2005). Especially when compared to plants, where approximately 220,000 species have been described out of an estimated 270,000, these numbers give one an idea of just how hugely unexplored this invisible living world of taste biodiversity really is. When talking of food, microorganisms have been used in a plethora … Read more

Experimental Balsamic

 by Ben Reade. The generally recognized method for making balsamic vinegar (BV) is based on a letter written in 1860 (Saccani, 1998). The most important production of balsamic vinegar happens in Modena, central north Italy. BV is characterized by high viscosity, very dark colour, high aroma and sweetness. BV has one of the highest levels of acidity in vinegar with a pH of around 2.3-2.8 (Masini & Giudici 1995). In Denmark this culture of balsamic vinegars (BV) has arrived in the last 12 years thanks to Andreas Harder  and Claus Meyers and is now starting to enter small-scale commercial production. BV has four important production stages. (i) the grape juice must be reduced to around 1/3 of its original volume. (ii) alcoholic fermentation of sugars into ethanol by yeasts, (iii) the oxidation of ethanol into acetic acid by acetic acid bacteria (AAB)  and then (iv) the most defining feature of … Read more

Creative Methodology

  by Ben Reade. As NFL recognizes cooking food as a creative occupation, but at the same time one which occupies space in the scientific sphere, a conscious effort is made to occupy the grey area in the middle, between science and creativity. By taking inspiration from both scientific and artistic disciplines, NFL manages to achieve things which other research facilities, based on only one side of the science/creativity divide, would not be able to attempt. The research which is made available on request, on this webpage, or through direct contact, aims at inspiring industry, restaurant chefs and home cooks alike, and to have a multi tiered and profound effect on the culinary threads of the Nordic fabric. At NFL chefs drive creative processes forward. Chefs over years of experimentation have a good idea of what may and may not be successful in terms of deliciousness. By practicing techniques repeatedly … Read more

Bitterness, Fire and Alkali

by Ben Reade. Bitterness is a very intriguing taste. Humans are born with an aversion to bitter tastes (Morini, 2007) and through life we learn to appreciate bitterness, many adults actively searching the taste in their food. Bitter tasting molecules are hugely diverse, with little or no chemical characteristics grouping them together as a unit. Bitterness is thought to be a survival mechanism for recognizing toxins in our environment, most poisons are very bitter. As we grow older however humans develop knowledge of what can and cannot be eaten. This knowledge removes some of the need to have an aversion response to the taste and the tendency is that humans start to appreciate bitter taste when it is not too strong. This is useful, as many bitter compounds act as anti-oxidants, which slow the body’s aging.In NNC, there is a big focus on vegetables, especially green and bitter varieties, often … Read more

An Ode to Alcohol

by Ben Reade. Around 800 species of yeast have been described by science (Boekout and Samson), this is thought to be a tiny fraction of the total number of living species. In FF, yeasts   are used primarily in alcoholic F. These include beer, wine, mead, sake, mirin as well as distilled alcoholic beverages such as vodka or schnapps. Leavened bread is also made using yeast. Yeast feed on sugars, principally glucose, when feeding in the presence of oxygen (aerobic conditions) producing energy (which they use) and carbon dioxide and water (which are discarded). Glucose + O2  (arrow)  CO2 + H2O + Energy When without oxygen (anaerobic conditions) they can still (although less efficiently), produce chemical energy (ATP) but this time they produce CO2 and alcohol as products. In alcoholic fermentation of beverages, the liquids are denied oxygen using airlock systems to ensure alcoholic fermentation. In bread, the yeasts first use up available oxygen … Read more