Bushifying away the Boar Taint

posted by Anne Overmark For the past two months or so I have had the pleasure of playing around with some pork of shady character, a Weber hot smoking grill and some (hopefully) potent microorganisms. My intention with all this? To make a delicious product out of an ingredient many consider repulsively flawed – boar-tainted meat.   It began with the prospect of a voluntary ban on castration of male piglets within the European Union in the year 2018. Castration is a practice primarily performed to prevent boar taint, the unpleasant odour and flavour that may occur in meat from uncastrated males (Lunde et al. 2013), and which is commonly believed to be caused by the two compounds skatole (3-methylindole) and androstenone (5α-androst-16-en-3-on) (Stolzenbach et al.  2009). However, due to animal welfare issues, this practice isexpected to be voluntarily abandoned (Lunde et al 2013 and Font-i-Furnols 2012), which could well lead … Read more

Kombucha: a tasty Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeasts

posted by Jonas Astrup Pedersen Kombucha, also known as Kargasok Tea, Tea Fungus, Haipao and Manchurian Mushroom, is a fermented beverage dating back several thousand years in the East. More recently, it has become popular in the West, specifically in ‘New Age’ circles (Battikh et al., 2012; Jarrell et al., 2000; Greenwalt et al., 2000). Tea fungus initially originated in China in 220 BCE during the Tsin Dynasty and prized as the ‘Divine Che’. The name ‘Kombucha’ seems associated with Doctor Kombu, who is said to have brought the ‘tea fungus’ from Korea to Japan in 414 CE (Dufresne and Farnworth, 2000). Increasing interest in Kombucha products is linked to their supposed therapeutic benefits, ranging from curing cancer and AIDS to enhancing weight loss, as well as demonstrating interesting sensory properties (Dufresne and Farnworth, 2000; Teoh et al., 2004). Although several of these claims are not proven, Kombucha beverages exerts … Read more

Black Garlic

The cloves start hard, raw, pungent, white, then transform completely – soft, bold, and black, aromatic but not aggressive, like a sort of fruit with beautiful round acidity, notes of balsamic vinegar, molasses, liquorice, tamarind. The basic technique is simple – place whole heads in a sealed container and keep at 60˚c for six weeks. One can keep them in for longer and they will mature further, but may also begin to dry out. What is interesting is that the process is not, strictly speaking, fermentative – the transformation is due not to microbial metabolism but in part to enzymatic breakdown (the heat denatures alliinase, the enzyme that converts non-volatile alliin into volatile allicin, the compound responsible for fresh garlic’s pungency) and in part to the Maillard Reaction, a cascade of chemical reactions that produce the dark colour and complex, carmelised flavour.[i] The sulfurous compounds may also contribute to its anti-microbial … Read more