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Fermentation processes using plant-based raw materials

Key topic in the Research group of Food Biotechnology

One focus of our research is the use of by-products from the agricultural and food sector to generate new types of food, i.e. bio-valorisation, and at the same time to avoid food waste or food loss. We achieve this with the help of valuable functional cultures. Recently, side streams from grain processing have come into focus. These accumulate in large quantities worldwide and can be enhanced through fermentation and thus be returned back to the human diet. At the same time, side streams provide a sustainable basis as a fermentation medium for obtaining biomass for future-oriented food.

Other areas of research in the field of bio-valorization are functional sourdoughs for applications in baked goods. The production of sourdough is a millennia-old craft that has experienced a resurgence in recent years in industrialized mass production. The applications here range from classic rye sourdoughs to innovative wheat sourdoughs and allow to emphasize the simplicity of baked goods and to follow a “clean label” strategy. Our approach in using functional cultures can be applied to produce bakery products and other innovative grain-based products that are as additive-free as possible, in line with current trends and consumer demands.

Recently, plant-based meat alternatives have been on the rise to meet the protein needs of the growing population in sustainable food production. We use our expertise to develop suitable functional cultures for these product categories, mainly to improve structure and nutritional value while generating a pleasant aroma.

In cooperation with the Food Technology Research Group, we transfer our cultures from laboratory to pilot scale in a scale-up model and test them in food production. The in-process analysis allows conclusions to be drawn about the influence of the functional cultures and their metabolic products on the quality of the final product, while findings from basic research, in the field of bioactive substances, support this process. In addition to this, we collaborate closely with the Food Chemistry Research Group in order to identify important aroma compounds in fermented foods.

Research Projects