“The number of people who give up eating dairy products continues to grow. They have various reasons, such as lactose intolerance, allergy to one of the main ingredients of milk – casein, or simply a decision to switch to a vegan diet. But remember that products created as a result of the action of bacteria fermenting milk – such as yoghurt or buttermilk – have a very positive effect on health” – says Klaudia Wojtachnio from the science club “Herbion” at Warsaw University of Technology. “Hence the popularity of substitutes for these products, such as yoghurts based on coconut milk or rice milk” – she adds.
Members of the club – biotechnology students – decided to use the knowledge gained during their studies and create their own substitute for traditional yoghurt. They selected millet for its production. “It is primarily cheap and easily available in Poland” – emphasizes the student. She notes that this cereal is full of nutrients: it contains phosphorus, silicon, iron and vitamins B1 and B2.
The student admits that working on substitutes for dairy products poses many challenges. The processes of creating yoghurts or cheeses have been developed for animal milk. Meanwhile, the base for substitutes are plant drinks – which means that the production process can not always be copied. “That`s why, for example, it would be difficult to create cereal mozzarella in the same way that we produce the traditional one” – she explains. Fortunately, in the case of yoghurts, creating a good substitute is possible.
Traditional yoghurt is made by adding two strains of bacteria to milk: Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Thanks to them, milk thickens, acquiring the familiar texture. “Of course, our millet drink does not contain casein. Therefore, in addition to these standard bacterial species, we will also use other ones that will help thicken the product” – says Klaudia Wojtachnio.
At this stage of the project development, students have established cooperation with the Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Its Microbiology Department has a device that allows to monitor the course of the fermentation process. This is done, for example, by tracking changes in pH and temperature. “Thanks to this, we can check how these bacteria handle our drink” – the student says. “Each vegetable matrix, based on which a product is created, has a different composition and different content of minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. We have to check ourselves how each of the commercially available starter cultures handles millet, because nobody has done it before” – she adds.
Eight members of the club work on the project: Klaudia Wojtachnio, Cezary Piwowarczyk, Anna Cieciuch, Maria Hayder, Joanna Jasińska, Agata Krosman, Urszula Mościbrodzka and Zuzanna Zając.
The text war originally published on the website “Science in Poland”