Fermentation has long been important for food production. Fermentative processes, namely the conversion of organic matter by microorganisms and enzymes, are used for example for the production of wine and beer and for the manufacture of bread and dairy products.
Fermentation is particularly desirable for legumes and oilseeds because it can significantly improve their nutritive properties. For example, the digestive qualities can be considerably enhanced and antinutritive substances such as enzyme inhibitors and glucosinolates can be reduced. In addition, the actions of bacteria, yeast, and fungi change the sensory profiles of the raw materials. This can be utilized to minimize undesirable flavor components such as the characteristic bean-like off-flavor of legumes. Texture-related parameters such as the roughness, astringency, and poor/flat mouth-feel can also be reduced by fermentation.
The goal of the ProFerment project is to utilize the advantages of traditional fermentation to develop novel, tasty, dairy-like products such as yogurt, quark, and cheese from plant raw materials.
High-purity protein preparations from lupines and sunflowers and selected microorganism strains will be used to study key aspects of the fermentation of plant proteins, for example changes to the sensory profile and rheological properties.
As secondary plant substances (SPSs) such as polyphenols not only affect the taste but also the growth and metabolic activities of microorganisms, lupine and sunflower flours with a high SPS content will also be studied.
The acquired knowledge will then be used to manufacture plant-based yogurt, milk drink, and cheese products having excellent sensory and rheological properties.
Besides studying legumes and oilseeds, the suitability of cereals and pseudo-cereals as plant starting materials for manufacturing novel fermented products will also be investigated.